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aNuYEL OF THrrUTORrCCJWPLETE IN THIS ISSUE 







BEAUTI FUL 

[ II Natural - Looking 

FALSE TEETH 



LOWEST PRICES 

SEND NO 
MONEY 



60 
Days’ 
Trial 



MRS. MARTHA A. 
WEBB, Jackson- 
ville, Florida, 

writes: “My plate 
is not only a per- 
fect fit, but a beau- 
tiful piece of work. 
I took my own im- 
pression under your 
instructions with- 
out the least diffi- 
culty. I could not 
have duplicated my 
plate here for less than four times the 
price you charged me.” 



MR. RAYMOND 
MILES, Elgin, Il- 
linois, writes: “It 
affords me great 
pleasure to inform 
you that I have ex- 
perienced no diffi- 
culty in using this 
plate with comfort 
and without, the as- 
sistance of any 
dental adhesive. I 
am now able to 
masticate different 
varieties of food, 
as well as raw apples and hard candy, 
just as well as I did with my natural 
teeth. During the trial period, not a 
single sign of gum soreness developed.” 



UNBREAKABLE ROOFLESS 



zMouth Comfort ! 

ELSIE E. BOLAND, 

Norton, Kansas, writes: 

“Enclosed find two pictures. 

One shows how I looked be- 
fore I got my teeth; the 
other one, afterwards. Your 
teeth are certainly beauti- 
ful. They look more natural 
than some that cost three 
and four times what I paid 
for mine.” 

FIT-RITE TEETH 
BY MAIL 

We make to measure to fit 
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— the World’s No. 1 FIT- 
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and women — from an impres- 
sion of your own mouth taken quickly and easily by our FIT- 
RITE improved method. We have thousands of enthusiastic 
satisfied customers all over the country wearing teeth we 
made by mail at sensible prices. 

AT ROCK-BOTTOM PRICES 

If you find out what others have paid for theirs, you will be astounded when you 
?ee how little ours will cost you! By reading our catalog, you will learn how lo save 
half or more on dental plates for yourself. Monthly payments possible. 

ON 6 0 DAYS' TRIAL 

Make us prove you can't beat our fit work or price. Wear our teeth on trial for as 
long as 60 days. Then, if you arc not perfectly satisfied with them, they will not cost 
you a cent. 

With Money-Back Guarantee of Satisfaction 

No money need be risked. We guarantee that if you are not completely satisfied with 
the teeth we make for you, then any time within 60 days we will immediately refund 
every cent you have paid us for them. We take your word. 

TO EAT WITH PLEASURE ... TO LAUGH 
HEARTILY ... TO LOOK YEARS YOUNGER . . . 
TO GUARD’ YOUR HEALTH ... TO SPEAK 
DISTINCTLY ... TO ENJOY LIFE! 

OUR dentures are set with life-like, pearly- white, penuine, porcelain teeth; constructed 
i C S r m , r a *' * W, N 1 expert workmanship, to give life-long service. We make 
ail styles or plates. A dentist who has had many years’ experience in making and 
fitting dental plates, that look right and fit right supervises the making of each plate. 



MAIL THIS COUPON NOW-v^v^ 
Mi n W? W? UNITED STATES 

M " DENTAL COMPANY 

Dept. E-82, 1555 Milwaukee Ave. 

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS 

Send, without obligation, your FREE impression 
material, catalog, and easy directions. 



(Print Clearly) 



FREE 



IMPRESSION MATERIAL, catalog with new 
low prices and easy directions. Don’t put this 
off. Do it TODAY! CLIP COUPON OR 
WRITE. 

Nowhere Else Can You Obtain Genuine FIT-RITE False Teeth 

< OK 

We Also Repair or Reproduce Old Plates — 48-Hour Service 

UNITED STATES DENTAL COMPANY 

THE WORLD’S LARGEST LABORATORY MAKING DENTAL 
PLATES ONLY 

DR. G. M. COLLINS, CHIEF OF STAFF 
1555-1557 MILWAUKEE AVE., DEPT. E-82. CHICAGO. ILLINOIS 



?ARY 

V\l\ I 







THIS BIG MONEY-MAKING OUTFIT... 



Started At Once On a 
Fine Paying FOOD ROUTE 



How would you like to have a fine- 
paying business of your own — a simple- 
to-run Food Route on which you can 
start making good money your very 
first day? Here’s your big chance if 
yon act now. To an honest, reliable 
man or woman in any open locality. 
I will give — FREE — complete business 
equipment containing absolutely every- 
thing needed to run a fine-paying 
neighborhood Food Route. Yon don’t 
send me a penny. If you want to 
better yourself — want cash to spend — 
money to save — the means to live in 
comfort — let me show you your big 
chance. 

Without any previous experience, 
you can now own a simple, pleasant, 
dignified Food Route — a profitable all- 
year ’round business of your own, in 
which your home is your headquarters. 
No training course required. 

Be a Food Distributor 

The complete valuable Display Outfit 
which I give you FREE is absolutely 
all you need to run a fine-paying neigh- 
borhood Food Route. And I am willing 
to extend liberal credit so you can 
build a splendid business on my capital. 

Food Distributors make good money 



because they handle daily necessities 
that people simply must buy. You will 
distribute our guaranteed, uniform 
high quality products fresh from our 
own pure food kitchens and labora- 
tories. You will make calls on your list 
of regular customers, take orders, 
make deliveries, and pocket a liberal 
share of every dollar you take in. 

Splendid Cash Profits 

You owe it to yourself to write and see 
what wonderful success so many others 
have enjoyed with this simple money- 
making Plan. Let me mail you full 
particulars — then you can judge 
whether you want to start right in 
making money at once. You can devote 
your full time or part time. 

Everything You Need 
— FREE 

I will give you FREE a complete val- 
uable Display Outfit, including a big 
assortment of regular full-size pack- 
ages. Without your _ sending me one 
penny, I will also give you a simple- 
sure-fire Plan which anyone can fol- 



low. I will give you advertising mate- 
rial and positively everything else you 
need to make good profits your very 
first day. I will help you every step 
of the way. 

In addition to your fine cash earn- 
ings. you can get food products and 
over one hundred other daily household 
necessities for your own use at whole- 
sale price — so you save money as well 
as make money. 

Get Full Particulars 
— NOW! 

This is a sincere offer made by a big, 
reliable, old-established company oper- 
ating from Coast to Coast. Write at 
once for full particulars. Unless you 
take advantage of my remarkable Free 
Outfit Offer now. you may be missing 
the very money-making opportunity 
you have been looking for. Strike out 
for yourself ! Be _ independent ! Make 
money ! Enjoy life ! Remember — you 
don't send me a penny. Just fill out 
and send the coupon and I will mail 
you full particulars. Do this TODAY t 

E. J. MILLS, President 
7974 Monmouth Ave,, Cincinnati, O, 



fovfutt Details of 



r 



E. J. MILLS, President, 

7974 Monmouth Ave., Cincinnati, Ohio. 

Without the slightest obligation on my part, please mail l 
me full particulars about your offer of a Complete Free Outflt . | 
so that I can start making money at once on a Local Food • 
Boute of my own. 

I 

Name { 



| Address | 

I I 

(Please print or write plainly) 

* 1 







* THE BEST IN S C I E NT I F I C T I O N * 




VoJ. 2, No. 3 CONTENTS November, 1939 



A Complete F>o«k-Lengtli Scientifiction Sore I 

THE FORTRESS 
OF UTOPIA 

By JACK WILLIAMSON 

On a Lifeless Mystery Satellite, Five Lone Mortals Sum- 
mon Secret Forces of the Citadel of Science to Free the 
Earth from the Doom of the Dark Nebula! - - - 14 

Other Unusual Stories 

THEY CHANGED THE WORLD Jack Binder 

A True Picture-Story ot the Lite of Heinrich R. Hertz 

THREE WISE MEN Lloyd Arthur Eschbach 

A Time-Traveling Machine Explodes on a Millionaire’s Doorstep 

A MARTIAN ODYSSEY Stanley G. Weinbaum 

A Scientifiction Hall of Fame Story 

Special Features 

MEET THE AUTHOR Jack Williamson 1 3 

GUEST EDITORIAL Ralph Milne Farley 89 

THRILLS IN SCIENCE — Thumbnail Sketches Mort Weisinger 102 

SCIENCE QUESTION BOX Questions and Answers M3 

THE ETHER VIBRATES Announcements and Letters I 14 

SCIENTIFIC CROSSWORD PUZZLE A Brain-Teaser 1 1 6 

REVIEW OF SCIENCE FICTION FAN PUBLICATIONS . . The Editor 1 26 



90 

92 

106 




STARTLING STORIES, published bi-monthly by Better Publications, Inc.. N. L. Pines. President, at 4600 Diversey Ave., 
Chicago, 111. Editorial and executive offices, 22 West 48th St, New York, N. Y. Entered as second class matter September 
29, 1938. at the post office at Chicago, Illinois, under the act of March 3, 1879. Copyright, 1939, by Better Publications, 
Inc. Yearly $.00, single copies $.15; foreign and Canadian postage extra. Manuscripts will not be returned unless accom- 
panied by self-addressed stamped envelope and are submitted at the author's risk. Names of all characters used in stories 
and semi-fiction articles are fictitious. If a name of any living person or existing institution is used, it is a coincidence. 
Companion magazines: Thrilling Wonder Stories, Strange Stories, Popular Western, Thrilling Mystery, Thrilling Western, 
Thrilling Detective, Thrilling Adventures, Thrilling Love, The Phantom Detective, The Lone Eagle, Sky Fighters, Popular Detec- 
tive, Thrilling Ranch Stories, Thrilling Sports, Popular Sports Magazine, Range Riders, Texas Rangers, Everyday Astrology, 
G-Men, Detective Novels Magazine, Black Book Detective Magazine, Popular Love, Masked Rider Western Magazine, and West. 





I. E. SMITH. President Dept 98109, 9 

National Radio Institute, Washington, D. C. 9 

Dear Mr. Smith: Send me FREE, without obligation, your 9 
64-page book "Rich Rewards in Radio’' which points out Radio's 9 
opportunities and tells how you train men at home to be Radio ft 
Technicians. (Write Plainly.) 



NAME. . . . 

, ADDRESS. 
CITY 



MAIL WOW* Get 64 page book FREE 



I jumped fnm 18a week to $ 50 

— a Free Book.started me fom7rtf this 

GOOD PAY IN RADIO 



HERE'S 



t* S.J.E. 

(NAME AND ADDRESS 
SENT UPON REQUEST) 



'T ha<J an $18 a week ieb in a shoe f u 
I'd probably be at it today if I hadn't 
about the opportunities in Radio and e 

ed training at borne for them." 



The training National Radio Institute 
gave me was so practical I was soon ready 
to make $5 to $10 a week in spare time 
servicing Radio sets." 



^EThen I finished training I accepted a fob 
as serviceman .with a Radio store. In three 
weeks I was made service manager at more 
than twice what I earned in the shoe 
factory." 



"Eight monthg later Jf. R. I. Employ _ 
" ipartrnent sent me to Station KWCR as 
Radio operator. Now I am Radio Engi- 
neer at Station WSUI. I am also connected 
with Television Station W9XK.” 



**N. R. I. Training took me out of a low- 
pay shoe factory job and put me into Radio 
at good pay. Radio is growing fast." 



iow I Train You at Home 

to BE A RADIO TECHNICIAN 



J. E. SMITH, President 
National Radio Institute 
Established 25 Years 



Radio is a yottno, growing field with 
a future, offering many good pay spare 
time and full time job opportunities. 
And you don’t have to give up your 
present job to become a Radio Techni- 
cian. I train you right at home in your 
Spare time. 

i i Why Many Radio Technicians 
Make $30, $40. $50 a Week 

Radio broadcasting stations employ en- 
gineers, operators, station managers. 
Radio manufacturers employ testers, 
inspectors, foremen, servicemen in 
good- pay jobs. Radio jobbers, dealers, 
employ installation and service men. 
Many Radio Technicians open their 
own Radio sales and repair businesses 
and make $30, $40, $50 a week. Others 
hold their regular jobs and make $5 to 
$10 a week fixing Radios in spare time. 
Automobile, police, aviation, Commer- 
cial Radio ; loudspeaker systems, elec- 
tronic devices are other fields offering 
opportunities for which N. R. I. gives 
the required knowledge of Radio. Tele- 
vision promises to open good jobs soon. 



Many Make $5, $10 a Week Extra 
in Spare Time While Learning 

The day you enroll, I start sending you 
Extra Money Job Sheets which start 
showing you how to do Radio repair 
jobs. Throughout, your training I send 
plans and directions which have helped 
many make $200 to $500 a year in 
snare time while learning. I send spe- 
cial Radio equipment to conduct ex- 
periments and build circuits. This 50-50 
training method makes learning at home in- 
teresting, fascinating, practical. I ALSO 
GIVE YOU A MODERN, PROFESSIONAL 
ALL- WAVE, ALL-PURPOSE SET SERVIC- 
ING INSTRUMENT to help you make money 



fixing Radios while learning and equip you 
for full time work after you graduate. 

Find Out What Radio Offers You 

Act Today! Mail the coupon for my 61 -page 
book, "Rich Rewards in Radio.” It points 
out Radio’s spare time and full time oppor- 
tunities and those coming in Television; tells 
about my course in Radio and Television; 
shows many letters from men I have trained, 
telling what they are doing and earning. Read 
my money back agreement. MAIL COUPON 
in an envelope or paste on a penny postcard 
—NOW! 

J. E. SMITH. President 
Dept 9M09, National Radio Institute 
Washington. D. C. 





A Money-Making Opportunity 

for Men of Character 

EXCLUSIVE FRANCHISE FOR 

An Invention Expected to Replace 

A Mum-MlUION-DOLLAR INDUSTRY 



Costly Work Formerly 
“Sent Out” by Business Men 
Now Done by Themselves 
at a Fraction of the Expense 

This is a call for men everywhere to handle 
exclusive agency for one of the most 
unique business inventions of the day. 

Forty years ago the horse and buggy business was supreme— today 
almost extinct. Twenty years ago the phonograph industry ran into 
many millions — today practically a relic. Only a comparatively few 
foresighted men saw tne fortunes ahead in the automobile and the 
radio. Yet irresistible waves of public buying swept these men to 
fortune, and sent the buggy and tne phonograph into the discard. So 
are great successes made by men able to detect the shift in public favor 
from one industry to another. 

Nou> another change is taking place. An old established industry— an integral 
and important part of the natioo's structure— in which millions of dollars chance hands 
every year— is in thousands of cases being replaced by a truly astonishing, simple inven- 
tion which does the work better— more reliably— AND AT A COST OFTEN AS LOW 
AS 2% OF WHAT IS ORDINARILY PAID! It has not required very long for men 
who have taken over the rights to this valuable invention to do a remarkable business, 
end show earnings which in these times are almost unheard of for the average man. 



EARNINGS 

One man in California earned over $1,600 per far Arar 

months — close to $5,000 in 90 days’ t_ nr Ar.r -czcr ras 
from Delaware— “Since I have been operiteg jjt a '.erir 
less than a month of actual selling) ar'i ac< Che M isr ax 
that, because I have been getting orgi anvd - La4 te ti r ei 

at least half the day in the office; cc_a: r r » tat 1 lu^r sail 
outright and on trial, 1 have made jaac a haAt m eweam at am e 
thousand dollars profit for ooe month.” A CaMBECK mm 
writes he has made $55-00 in a sing-c i*' « =-r^r Trisa ru 
nets over $300 in less than a week 5 r.at - - : .x*. we per- 
mit mentioning here more than these .tj mates c^x How- 
ever, they are sufficient to indicate tiu: tee ■ I jir hag 
in this business is coupled with irrjarc-A» cars .zip ier the 
right kind of man. One man with a km akaif made meg 
a thousand sales on which his ear=_m .-*= rm: St ’s 560 
per sale and more. A great deal of due ban mm neat 
business. Yet he had never dcoe x- _• r hr t- a befcr e 
coming with us. That is the kind of : xrm r» dta b rj_»s 
offers. The fact that this basinet kss msatmk to it tack 
business men as former bankers, exmse^o :r ba aena - 
men who demand only the highest rvar aaatatf aad 
income— gives a fairly good picture -r .ir i r: r a: acts rh;s 
is. Our door is open, however, to the » oia htirj for 
the right field ia which to make b ~ . • . tss r. rare. 



Not o'" Gadget”— 

Not a "Knick-Knack 9 *— 

but a valuable, proved device which 
has been sold successfully by busi- 
ness novices as well as seasoned 
veterans. 

Make bo mistake — this is no novelty— no flimsy creation 
which the inventor hopes to put on the market. You 
probably have seen nothing like it yet— perhaps never 
dreamed of the existence of such a device — yet it has already 
been used by corporations of outstanding prominence — by 
dealers of great corporations — by their branches— by doc- 
tors, newspapers, publishers — schools — hospitals, etc., etc., 
and by thousands of small business men. You don't have to 
convince a man that he should use an electric bulb to light 
his office instead of a gas lamp. Nor do you have to sell 
the same business man the idea that some day he may need 
something like this invention. The need is already there— 
the money is usually being spent right at that very 
moment — and the desirabiliry of saving the greatest 
part of this- expense is obvious immediately. 

Some of the Savings 
You Can Show 

Fen walk into an office and pot down before your prospect 
A letter from a sales organization showing that they did 
work in their own office for $11 which formerly could have 
cost them over $200. A building supply corporation pays 
our mao $70, whereas the bill could have been for $1,6001 
An automobile dealer pays our representative $15, whereas 
the expense could have been over $1,000. A department 
•tore has expense of $88.60, possible cost if dpne outside 
the business being well over ? 2 , 000 . And so on. We could 
not possibly list all cases here. These are just a few of 
the many actual cases which we place in your hands to 
work with. Practically every line of business and every 
lection of the country is represented by these field reports 
which hammer arross dazzling, convincing money-saving 
opportunities which hardly any business man can fail to 
VukMfiund, 



Profits Typical of 
the Young, Growing Industry 

Going into this business is not like selling something 
offered in every grocery, drug or department store. For 
instance, when you take a $7-50 order, $5.83 can be your 
•hare. On $1,500 worth of business, your share can be 
$1,167.00. The very least you get as your part of every 
dollar’s worth of business you do is 67 ceDts — on ten 
dollars' worth $6.70, on a hundred dollars' worth $67.00 
— in other words two thirds of every order you get is 
yours. Not only on the first order— but on repeat orders 
—and you have the opportunity of earning an even larger 
percentage. 

This Business Had 
Nothing to Do With 
House to House Canvassing 

Nor do yon have to know anything about high-pressure 
selling. ' 'Selling" is unnecessary in the ordinary sense of 
the word. Instead of hammering away at the customer 
and trying to "force" a sale, you make a dignified, 
business-like call, leave the installation— whatever sire 
the customer says he will accept— at our risk, let the 
customer sell himself after the device is in and working. 
This does away with the need for pressure on the cus- 
tomer — it eliminates the handicap of crying to get the 
money before the customer has really convinced nimself 
100%. You simply tell what you offer, showing proof of 
success ia that customer's particular line of business. 
Then leave the invention without a dollar down. It 
Starts working at once. In a few short days, the installa- 
tion should actually produce enough cash money to pay 
for the deal, yrith profits above the Investment coming in 
at the same time. You then call back, collect your rqooey. 
Nothing is so convincing as our offer to let results speak 
for themselves without risk to the customer! While other* 
fail to get even a hearing, our men are making sales 
running into the hundred*. They have received the atten- 
tion of the largest firms in the country, and sold to the 
smallest businesses by the thousands. 



No Mono N«arf •* bW 

in trying that Wan aa. las mm mmmme dm poari- 
biliries and not kaai galas M ym mm Wbqg fm a 
harness Am m ma aw«a»-« Waa Am as just 
coming into as wa aa as mmmme. amend of the 
downgrade— < Wn atm mrnrn me Wav re td from 

has a prassscz pracmuiW ■ rwaw a4az. m, or factory 

into which jrx caa too {.- a 3 nr rlrr ri r 

ntcttsely but does u:r irr ms- y~cr to COCte nd 

with ^a* other •smxmmm » dar Snemme ymtiwl 

tbmt fayt aw m v wWW mkm Am mmy an aab 

n«iwiadaaavra«aaS 1 — 1 d aach « WntM 
looks as d a 0 w-a Meyaa^, §0 m W with u 
at mu he (hr ngmm m warn mamerr—d no t delay— 
because the Otm- e. . — - . -s -«*«. toeeostelie 
will hav* am v. m a Sr arc -ac — aad if ir mros 
out thas ym «pr me hems s — w a d horh be sort. 
So far rn a 1 iaaa i . aw rnfmaym a la tm weed it right 
away— or c pm bm do « oow. Address 



U 






is the time! 



Business is Searching 



forYOU/ if ... . 



R IGHT now, in many lines, there is a search 
. for really good men — managers, leaders — 
men who can take charge of departments, busi- 
nesses, branch offices, and get things humming. 

As always, there are not enough ordinary 
jobs to go ’round — but rarely before, in the 
history of American business, has there been 
so much room at the top! And new jobs are 
being created by the business pick-up in many 
lines— jobs that pay splendidly and that open 
the way to lifetime success. 

Ordinarily, there would be plenty of men to 
fill these jobs — men in junior positions who 
had been studying in spare time. But most men 
have been letting their training slide during 
these dark years of depression . . . “What’s the 
use?” — You have heard them say. Perhaps 
there has been some excuse for sticking to any 
old kind of a job one could get the past few 
years — but the door is wide open for the man 
with ambition, and ability NOW! 

And don’t let anyone tell you that “Oppor- 
tunity Only Knocks Once” — that’s one of the 
most untruthful sayings ever circulated. Op- 



portunities flourish for every American every 
day of his life. 

Far more to the point is to be ready — to be 
prepared — to make yourself interesting to the 
hig-time employer — and LaSalle offers you a 
short-cut method of qualifying for opportunity 
jobs in accounting, law, traffic, executive man- 
agement, and kindred occupations. 

LaSalle Extension is 30 years old — averages 
over 30,000 enrollments a year— 60 American 
firms each employ 500 or more LaSalle-trained 
men — surveys show that many LaSalle stu- 
dents attain 40% salary increase after gradu- 
ation— 10% of all C.P. A.’s in the U. S. A. are 
LaSalle-alumni. 

Why not find out what LaSalle has done and 
is doing for men in your position? Send and get 
the facts; see what LaSalle can do for you, 
personally! 

There’s no question about it — business is 
icking up — jobs are looking for men — the time 
as come for you to qualify for prosperity. 
Mail this coupon today! 



LASALLEEXTEN^ 

A CORRESPONDENCE INSTITUTION 

4101 S. Michigan Ave., Dept. 11329-R Chicago ! 

I am in earnest about my success and I would like to have your special S 
booklet— without any cost or obligation to me— about my opportunities ■ 
and your success training in the business field I have checked: 



D Business Management 

□ Higher Accountancy 
□Traffic Management 

□ Modern Salesmanship ' 

□ Commercial Law 

□ Law — Degree of LL.B. 

□ Expert Bookkeeping 



Name. 



Position. 



□ Industrial Management 

□ Modern Foremanship 

□ Business Correspondence 

□ Business English 

□ Effective Speaking 

□ C. P. A. Coaching 

□ Stenotypy 








Boys I 



BIG PRIZES 



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stand. A truly wonderful bike. 
Earn it, and any of 300 other 
prizes. Mail the coupon today. 



H OW proud you’ll be to own this. swift new bike or any of our 300 
other big prizes. You’ll MAKE MONEY while you earn them, 
too. It’s easy to start. Need not interfere with school. Just deliver 



[ HERE'S MY , 
„ CHANCE.' 
lU MAIL THIS. 
V POST CARD ' 



- - _ ' peopJ 

your neighborhood. Some boys 
or a compo-pearl knife tl 
Mail the coupon NOW. 



w i a prize 3uch as a model airplane 

or a compo-pearl knife the first day. Perhaps you can, too. Hur 



Mr. Jim Thayer, Dept. 905 

The Crowell-Collier Publishing Co., Springfield, Ohio 
Dear Jim: Start me earning MONEY and PRIZES at once. 



Name- 



Age.. 



Address 



MAIL THIS COLTON TODAY 



State. 



City- 



* DYMAf/C A 

HEAVY\DUtM 

. . i\rr»Viv\ . Li J UjLj/J n 



INDUSTRIAL WELDER 



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SONG POEMS 



ns your original 

RICHARD “ 



WANTED AT ONCEI 
Mother, Home, Lov* 
Patriotic, Sacred, 
Comic or any subject 
Don't delay — send 
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— 74 Woods Bldo., CHICAGO. ILLINOIS 




Coming in the December Issue 
of Our Companion 
Scientitiction Magazine 



vmmjtaM®, 



'SfiM® 






SIGNBOARD OF SPACE 
A Novelet of Martian Mystery 

By FREDERIC ARNOLD 
KUMMER, JR. 



Plus a Full-Leng + n Novel by 

EANDO BINDER 
Complete in a Special Section 

AND MANY OTHER STORIES 





If This Were You — 
Laid Up By 

SICKNSSS 
OR ACCWENP 

What Would It Mean 
To YOU To Get Up To 

$ 150.00 

A MONTH? 




Amazing New Policy 

COSTS ONLY 3/ A DAY 

If sickness or accident should strike YOU — lay you up, dis- 
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additional worry of money for bills and expenses! Protect 
yourself and your loved ones with the remarkable low cost 
Sterling Sickness and Accident Policy! For only 3c a day this 
amazing policy provides ACTUAL CASH — to help pay bills 
and expenses! Pays you up to $150.00 a month for sickness, 
including Hospital Benefits; $100.00 a month for accident; 
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This policy covers sicknesses common to men and women, 
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MORE THAN 
$500,000.00 PAID 

Young and old — men, women, 
children, ages 15 to without 
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protection of all policy-holders. 



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564 Jackson-Franklin Bldg. Chicago, III, 



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paid to you IN CASH for 
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¥5 $ 150.00 

a month for sickness includ- 
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¥S $100.00 

a month for disability due to 
accident. 

$ 100.00 

Cash paid as Emergency Aid 
or Identification Benefit. 

OTHER LIBERAL BENEFITS 

Doctor’s bill for non disabling 
injuries — 10% increase in 
benefits for 5 years at no 
extra cost. 

All Benefits as described 
on Policy 





PICTURE 

B I 11 f* SELLS TO I 
H I IV U EVERYONE! 

SAMPLE 



RIN6 

From Any 
Photo You 
Send Only 



Hand Tinted In Natural Life Like Colors. lOe Extra 

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PICTURE RING CO 



SEND YOUR RING SIZE NOW 



( PICTURE RING CO., 

Dent. B-2R. 

I 12th and Jackson Sts., 

1 Cincinnati. Ohio. 

I Enclosed is photo. Please rush my individually made 
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I man 48c plus few cents postage. It is understood that 
I If I am not entirely satisfied, I can return ring within 

1 5 days and you will refund my money in full. 

Hand Tinted in Natural Life Like Colors. 10c Extra 



Name . . . 
Address. . 



12 TH. fj JACKSON STREET 
CINCINNATI OHIO 



City State., 






Boys! Girls! Bikes Q|VEN 

NOTHING TO BUY I 
-- '-^hT^ i NO RISK, NO CASH 

/V SEND NO MONEY 
~ - / ffl ) - SEND NAME 

MA,L C0UP0Ml 

/ mxS Blfli Everybody gets a premium or 
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ill ^SLy7#j »fe\v or other expensive Premiums 
ifffM&IWi YOURS for SIMPLY G1V- 

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fwlU /■//ill Jl/l etc r whlcl ? y° u easily 



Electric or Hand 
Operated PHONOGRAPH 
or CASH 



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complete iwith cord, 
and speed control. _ 
ords. Mellow tone! 



Plays 10* rec- 

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WHITE CLOVERINE 
^ SALVE to friends at 25c 
(with freo picture! and re- 
m&: mlt as explained in cata- 
^■F log. Be first. Mail coupon. 
PwP Wilson Client. Co., Ine., 
“ Dept. TG-31, Tyrone, Pa. 



eic., wuicD you 

Bell to friends at 25c 
a bos (with picture 
i FREE) and remitting 
I is explained in cat- 

I alog sent with goods. 
I SPECIAL: — Catalog 
I shows 20 Premiums for 
I returning only $3 col- 
I lected. Constant users— 
V please write. Millions 
I pleased. Pictures pep 
sales. Salve sold must 
calls. BE FIRST. Mail 
coupon Now I Wilson 

Chom. Co., Ine., Dept. 
TG-31, Tyrone, Pa. 



PREMIUMS 
k OR 
i CASH 
I FOR ALL 



or Cash Commission, Nothing to Buy, No 
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YOURS for SIMPLY GIVING M / 1 W? « 
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with our famous WHITE CLOVER- 1 rH © II 
INE SALVE used for CHAPS, I 



uooi jdox , uoasv- w 
erbrake. Yes. fully ■ 
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GUITAR GIVEN 



Or Big Cash Commission 
Send No Money 
Boys! Girls! 

Standard size regulation gui- 
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our WHITE CLOVERINE 
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which you sell to friends 
l and neighbors at 25c a 
i box (giving picture Free) 
I and remitting as ex- 
plained in premium 



OR BIG CASH COMMISSION 



NO RISK — NO CASH 



Send Namo 
and Address 

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MAIL COUPON NOW I — 
WILSON CHEM. CO., INC. 
DEPT. TG-31 
TYRONE, PENNA. 



MAIL COUPON NOW 

WILSON CHEM. CO.. INC., 

Dept. TG-31, Tyrone, Pa. Date 

Gentlemen: Please send me 12 beautiful art pic- 
tures with 12 boxes WHITE CLOVERINE SALVE 
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catalog sent with order, postage paid. 



catalog. 

SPECIAL — Choice 
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ing only §3.00 col- 
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mk urns Given. 
H —We trust 
you. Mail 
coupon. 

W WILSON 
r CHEM. CO., INC. 
Dept. TG-31, 



Name. 



Town State 

Print Your Last Name Oniy In Spaces Below. 



TYRONE, PENNA. 



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J State whether for Matt- [j Voman-D orChili- O 




MEET THE AUTHOR 



A NEW WORLD 
By JACK WILLIAMSON 

Author of “The Fortress of Utopia,” this 
Month’s Book-Length Novel 

I T is thirteen years since a rather lonely, 
dreamy farm boy stumbled across his 
first stray copy of a science fiction maga- 
zine — which had a glorious cover by Paul — 
and was instantly gripped by the breath-tak- 
ing wonder of this new world of science and 
imagination. 

At once I knew that I wanted to write 
science fiction, and soon forgot a planned 
career in chemistry to do it. The first story 
appeared within two years, and more than a 
million words have been printed since. But 
still I find that every 
science fiction story 
is a new and thrill- 
ing adventure. 

The writing of 
FORTRESS OF 
UTOPIA— a long 
with the science-fic- 
tional spectacles at 
the World’s Fair and 
the recent Science 
Fiction Convention 
— was one of the 
high points of a 
three-month stay, 
this spring, in New 
York City. 

The novel — if the 
editors will allow a 
behind - the - scenes 
glimpse — was evolved in a series of con- 
ferences with the staff of STARTLING 
STORIES. 

A good deal is said, these days, about 
Utopias. Nearly every orator, in fact, on 
every soap-box, has his own utopian scheme 
to cure the ills of the world. And your alert 
editors propounded this question: 

What would happen if a band of earnest 
scientists, equipped with a certain instru- 
mentality, set out to transform our muddling 
modern world into a planned Utopia? 

FORTRESS OF UTOPIA is a science- 
fictional answer to that question. It is a 
story, too, about young Jay Cartwright and 
dramatic Captain Drumm and grave Lyman 
Galt and cynical Martin Worth and lovely 
Pat Wayland — all of whom I learned to 
know and love during the months that I 
shared their strange adventures in the world 
of tomorrow. 




READ 

STARTLING STORIES 

EVERY ISSUE 




Arrest Him, Officer! 

I’LL HAVE COMPLETE FACTS ON 
THE OTHER FELLOW TONIGHT! 



Follow This Man! 

S ECRET Service Operator No. 38 is on the job . . .follow him 
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is TRUE. No obligation. Just mail me the coupon and get— 

V?T> f?TP The Confidential Reports 
K No. 38 Made to His Chief 



And the best part of it all ig this— it may open your eyes to 
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Free Confidential Reports 1 



INSTITUTE OF APPLIED SCIENCE 

1920 Sunnyside Ave., Dept. 7968, Chicago, Illinois 

^■■■m.a.n.K..a.aBSSKicSKSESa.i 

Institute of Applied Science 
1920 Sunnyside Ave., Dept. 7968, Chicago, Illinois 

Gentlemen — Without any obligation whatsoever, send 
me the Reports of Operator No. 38, also your illus- 
trated Free Book on Finger Prints and your low 
prices and Easy Terms Offer. Literature will be sent 
only to persons stating their age. 

Name 



Address 



Aee 






13 





On a Lifeless Mystery Satellite, 
Fire Lone Mortals Summon 
Secret Forces of the Citadel off 
Science to Free the Earth from 
the Doom off the Dark. Nebula T 
• 

A Book-Length Novel 

By JACK 
WILLIAMSON 

Author of “The Infinite Enemy,” “Passage to 
Saturn,” etc. 



That ominous shining tube 
was pointed at the huge bril- 
liant half-disk of the Earth 
(Chapter VII) 





CHAPTER I 

Rocket to Nowhere 

F IRST men to the moon ! Stand- 
ing on the flag-draped platform 
at the World’s Fair grounds, on 
that sultry summer day of 1939, Jay 
Cartwright was aware of his hammer- 
ing heart. He forgot the white sea of 
intent up-turned faces beyond the 
ropes. The hum of speech faded from 
his ears. He saw only the racing 
hands of the watch on his wrist — rac- 
ing toward the calculated second of 
the start. 

Dwarfed in the Trylon’s shadow, 
the slim bright spindle of the rocket' 
stood in a roped-off space of the green 
parkway in the Transportation Zone. 
Flash bulbs flickered and news-reel 
cameras hummed. 

Jay Cartwright was oblivious to all 




16 



STARTLING STORIES 



this, did not care much for ceremonial 
pomp. He was a slender, low-voiced 
young man, with mild blue eyes and 
yellow hair. He disliked publicity, and 
it was only for the sake of little De- 
lorme, designer of the rocket, that he 
had agreed to this staged take-off, 
publicity being to the diminutive in- 
ventor as welcome as water to a duck. 

How would it really feel? A thou- 
sand times, Cartwright had imagined 
the wild intense elation of the first 
man to step upon the moon, drunk 
with his victory over space. Would 
it be like that? And what would they 
find? Just barren lava fields? Or, as 
Delorme had hinted, something more 
amazing? 

He knew the danger. His attorneys 
had been pointing it out for months. 
A man with a hundred and forty mil- 
lions, they insisted, had no business 
to risk his life on such a suicidal proj- 
ect. But, Cartwright always told 
them, other things could be more im- 
portant than danger. 

He started back to awareness. 

“Oui, we may be keeled,” Delorme 
was saying, bowing happily at the tel- 
evision cameras. “But if so, we shall 
die gladly in ze sairvice of science.” 

Jay Cartwright did not so readily 
accept the idea of dying. When the 
newshawks pressed him for a state- 
ment, he forced himself to face the 
staring iconoscopes and the micro- 
phones, and said : 

“I know we take a risk. I am will- 
ing to accept it, because I think our 
flight can be a useful thing. Today 
the world is sick with unemployment. 
It is jittery with the dread of war. 
But the science that built our rocket 
is international. If we win the moon, 
it will be a victory for all the world. 
Perhaps that will help the spirit of 
men.” 

The applause seemed to falter. 

“Zay do not understan’,” little De- 
lorme told him. “What zay want eez 
heroism, courage, death.” He waved 
a strutting farewell. “Off — to zee 
moon !” 

He followed Cartwright up the 
flimsy metal ladder, into the cramped 
pilot compartment. They buckled 
their harness, tested the reaction 



tubes, and waited for the dignitaries 
to scuttle for safety below. 

C ARTWRIGHT watched the chro- 
nometer’s creeping needle. It 
reached the second, and he lifted his 
hand. The jets made a cushion of blue 
fire beneath, and the whole rocket 
screamed with a terrific vibration. 

It moved, savagely. The straps cut 
into Cartwright’s lean body. The 
breath was crushed out of him. And 
a spinning darkness pressed upon 
him, as acceleration-pressure drove 
the blood from his brain. 

Cartwright fought the darkness and 
fought for breath and fought that 
ruthless pressure. Elation bubbled 
in him, for they were safely off! 

Frantically he labored to keep up 
with his thousand practised tasks, set- 
ting and reading instruments, watch- 
ing a hundred dials, making swift cal- 
culations. The bellow of the jets an- 
nihilated all other sound, and he 
passed the figures to Delorme scrawled 
on bits of paper. 

A needle quivered, and he felt the 
whole rocket shudder He scrawled a 
question mark. Delorme’s face was 
white. He held up three fingers, and 
pointed anxiously down toward the 
rocket compartments. Then his hand 
came with a clutching movement to- 
ward his 'hroat, and his small body 
slumped limp in the harness. 

Cartwright seized the dual controls. 
It was a two-man job, to watch the 
banks of instruments, make all the 
computations, and balance the thun- 
dering jets to hold the rocket on its 
course. But he tried to carry on 
alone. 

That needle flickered again, back to 
zero. And the rocket flung sidewise 
as if some gigantic hand had struck it. 
Three equalized tubes drove the rock- 
et; their hundred-ton thrusts had to 
be kept in perfect balance. 

With the steering jets, in the nose, 
he brought the rocket back upon the 
course, and battled to keep it there. 
And the minutes, under the terrific 
tension of a six-gravity acceleration, 
stretched into hours. 

Every muscle and tendon in his bat- 
tered body ached. A thin unnoticed 



THE FORTRESS OF UTOPIA 



17 



stain of blood was hardening on his 
upper lip. His head throbbed to the 
roaring of the jets, until almost he 
envied Delorme’s oblivion. 

Watching the schedule pasted to 
the steel wall, he gratefully cut the 
acceleration as the radio-altimeter 
pointed off the hundreds of miles. To 
five gravities, four, and three, and 
two. 

When Number Three Tube cut out 
again, it was easier to hold the course 
with the steering jets — but, with each 
successive failure, the tube was cut 
out longer. At this rate, the steering 
tubes would be burned out long be- 
fore they reached the Moon. 

They were eight hundred miles 
from Earth when he cut the accelera- 
tion to one gravity. He stretched 
himself thankfully in the harness. 
And little Delorme lifted his head, 
mopping at a stain of blood where his 
brow had struck a key. 

“Mon Dieu!” His thin voice was 
audible above the lessened shrieking 
of the jets. “Speak of going over your 
Niagara Falls in a barrel — that is a 
couch of eiderdown!” 

The rocket lurched aside again. 

“Parbleu! It is Number Three — 
probably a leaking valve on zee potas- 
sium vapor element. I theenk I can 
feex it.” 

He unbuckled his harness. Sway- 
ing weakly, he let himself through the 
bulkhead valve and climbed down the 
ladder toward the rocket compart- 
ment. The automatic valve closed be- 
hind him. Five minutes later the 
little telegraph disk clattered to 
“Emergency” and then to “Power 
Off.” 

Cartwright snatched for the firing 
levers. 

T HEN it was that the Moon-Expe- 
dition, begun with such confi- 
dence and pomp, came to its sudden, 
premature, and obscure end! 

There was a stunning concussion. 
The bulkhead warped upward. Deaf- 
ened, Cartwright saw the flare of in- 
candescent vapor outside the ports. 
Bruised, half-stunned, he wound up 
the little hand-powered emergency 
transmitter, to send the rocket’s last 




CARTWRIGHT 



signal back to Earth: 

“Explosion! Main tubes wrecked 
and Delorme killed. Falling. Will 
try to use steering jets — ” 

In what seemed like only a time- 
tick, the Earth’s shadow, from which 
they had escaped, once again embraced 
them. They dropped into Earth’s at- 
mosphere and into night. Desper- 
ately Cartwright tried to turn the 
dizzy fall into a glide — 

Crack-up! 

Cartwright lived, his left arm brok- 
en, not knowing where he was, and 
unable to communicate with the out- 
side world because the little emer- 
gency transmitter was hopelessly 
smashed. It took him two days to 
build an oxygen torch, and with it he 
cut his way out of the wreckage. 

He looked about him and his heart 
sank. The rocket had fallen in a trop- 
ical rain-forest. The ants were al- 
ready at work on Delorme’s body. He 
buried it and sought water. 

The rain-forest was a nightmarish 
dream in his subsequent wanderings. 
Mighty branchless boles towered in- 
to it like the pillars of some dark ca- 
thedral. Gigantic lianas, writhing like 
snakes in the gloom, tripped and im- 
peded him. Reeking swamps sucked 



18 



STARTLING STORIES 



him down into quaking black ooze. 
Mosquitoes were humming clouds of 
torture. 

He grew ill. Fever parched his 
skin, dried his mouth, fogged his 
brain. He lost the supplies he had 
brought from the wreck. He was 
staggering in delirium when he came 
through the terrible marshes, to the 
bend of a mighty river. 

There he built a raft. A totter- 
ing yellow skeleton, fever-maddened, 
starved, one arm slung, he flogged 
himself day after day to the task. The 
day the raft was done, the river fell 
six inches. The raft was immovable. 

Exhausted with the effort to pry it 
free, he flung himself down upon his 
useless pile of wood. He was too far 
spent to curse or to sob. Back in the 
jungle, he heard a soft and now famil- 
iar susuration. He saw a rodent 
scamper past. He knew that it was 
fleeing from the army ants. But he 
was too far gone to care. 

Then, with all hope gone, had come 
the rescue. It had a fantastic dream- 
like quality. It was like a part of his 
delirium. The machine that settled, 
with a soft deep thrumming sound, 
beside his raft upon the sand bar, was 
like nothing he had ever seen. 

It was wingless. There were no pro- 
pellors or projecting cathion tubes. 
It resembled a huge silver egg. There 
were two shining greenish disks at 
the ends. Painted on the side of it 
was the outline of an antique clay 
lamp, lettered, Utopia, Inc. Larger 
characters, beneath, spelled: Pioneer. 

URSING his throbbing arm, 
Cartwright managed to sit up 
on the raft. He shook his unkempt, 
fever-buzzing head. He could not 
credit his senses, believing that his 
sick brain was fashioning visions as a 
mental barrier against the whispering 
horror of the ants. 

But an oval door was opening in 
the side of that white metal egg. 
Metal steps rattled down, and a tall 
man descended them. Cartwright’s 
hollow, fever-glazed eyes blinked. 
The vision was real ! 

The stranger was bronzed and erect. 
He glittered magnificently in an un- 



familiar uniform of crimson silk, stiff 
with gold braid. A string of polished 
medals shimmered across his chest. 
He came with a brisk military stride 
to the raft. 

“Cartwright, I presume?” He had 
a deep, crisp voice. “I am Captain 
Drumm. Captain Norman Drumm, 
once of the army engineering corps. 
Please accept my condolences for the 
failure of your lunar flight. And may 
I offer you transportation back to New 
York, with the compliments of Uto- 
pia, Incorporated?” 

“Thanks,” Cartwright gasped. “Uto- 
pia — what — ” 

He didn’t hear the answer, because, 
at that instant, a wave of dizziness 
overcame him and he toppled off the 
raft. Dimly, he felt this strangely uni- 
formed captain lift him, carry him 
without effort. A booming rhythm, 
as the queer ship lifted. And then 
nothing at all. 

Nothing — until those first disor- 
dered snatches of awareness, when he 
lay on a narrow bed, too weak to turn 
himself, staring at the green-and- 
ivory ceiling of his room in New 
York’s Tropical Hospital. 

The illness had been graver than 
he had suspected. He remembered 
the weak misery of his fever-parched 
body, the endless throb of his burst- 
ing head, the blurred endless proces- 
sion of nurses, doctors, examinations, 
treatments — 

And then the joyous wonder of re- 
turning health. 

“Young man, don’t thank me,” little 
Dr. Cor ken told him. “You owe your 
life to three people connected with 
this mysterious Utopia Corporation.” 

“Utopia — ” Cartwright groped into 
dim memory. “What is it?” 

“Some sort of scientific club, appar- 
ently,” the little doctor told him. “It 
was their astronomer, Martin Worth, 
who figured out by mathematics that 
your rocket would fall near the Negro 
River in Brazil — after the Fleet had 
been ordered to search the North At- 
lantic. It was their Captain Drumm, 
who found you with his plane — ” 

“If that was an airplane, I must have 
been out of my mind!” Cartwright 
said. 




THE FORTRESS OF UTOPIA 



19 



“You were,” Corken assured him. 
“Somewhere in the swamps, you 
picked up a brand-new type of ence- 
phalitis. We had v given you up, here 
at the hospital, when Dr. Wayland 
sent for a specimen of the virus and 
made a successful serum. Pat Way- 
land is also connected with the Utopia 
Corporation.” 

“If you can get in touch with any 
of them,” Cartwright said, “I want to 
thank them — materially. Utopia, In- 
corporated sounds like a humanitarian 
enterprise. And a hundred and forty 
millions is quite a responsibility, doc- 
tor. Especially since I only inherited 
it. I want to invest it where it will 
do the most good to mankind.” 

P RESENTLY the letter came to 
him at the hospital. Above a 
Manhattan address was that odd sym- 
bol of the burning lamp. The puzzling 
message ran: 

Dr. Corken has communicated with us. 
We thank you for your offer of aid. And we 
need it desperately. For our world lives to- 
day in the shadow of unsuspected danger. 

If you are grateful for your life, please 
come to us. Let us show you the scientific 
evidences of this approaching disaster. Let 
us beg your aid for our plan. For that is 
the world’s only chance to survive the Holo- 
caust. 

Lyman Galt, Director 
Utopia, Incorporated. 

The next day he was discharged as 
cured. 

Now, as the elevator flung him up- 
ward toward the top of the city’s tall- 
est building, that singular letter was 
crushed in Cartwright’s perspiring 
hand. What was the Utopia Corpora- 
tion? The approaching “Holocaust?” 
The Plan that might save mankind? 
He was on his way to find out. 



CHAPTER II 
The Dead Pocket 



C ARTWRIGHT opened a door 
that bore the now familiar em- 
blem of the flaming antique lamp. 
Somehow, the mystery surrounding 




Utopia, Incorporated, had made him 
expect modernistic glass-and-chro- 
mium luxury. But the reception room 
in which he found himself was simple 
and plain. 

A girl was busy at the desk, remov- 
ing fragile pieces of laboratory glass- 
ware from a carton, and checking them 
off a list. She was absorbed in her 
task and did not look up. 

Cartwright’s eyes passed her, then 
came back. He stared — with good 
reason. The girl was exquisite. A 
light tan warmed her flawless skin. 
Her hair was shining platinum. Her 
face had a smooth, doll-like perfec- 
tion. 

Jay Cartwright had been so dili- 
gently pursued by certain female 
seekers of that hundred and forty mil- 
lions, that he had come to avoid fem- 
inine society. But there had been 
none like the girl before him. He 
wondered how she came to be work- 
ing in an office. 

He had forgotten to speak. When 
at last she did look up at him, he saw 
that her eyes were a soft clear blue. 
Altogether, she almost took his breath. 
In a sugar-sweet, quiet voice, she re- 
marked innocently: 

“After all, this isn’t the waxworks.” 



20 



STARTLING STORIES 



Cartwright turned red and gulped. 
He fumbled awkwardly for Galt’s let- 
ter, and told her his name. 

“Oh!” The girl stared at him with 
widened blue eyes. He had an odd 
impression that her baby-face was de- 
liberately vacant. “Lyman’s is the 
second door.” 

The platinum splendor of her head 
bent again. Cartwright was puzzled 
by a momentary sparkle of interest 
he had seen in her eyes. 

“You would almost think,” he told 
himself, “that she was conscious!” 

B EYOND the second door, he 
found himself in a larger office. 
The windows overlooked the ragged 
canyons of Manhattan. This room, too, 
looked simple, utilitarian, worn. Sit- 
ting behind a cluttered desk was a 
big, tired-looking man. 

“You’re Cartwright !” He rose, smil- 
ing. “I came to see you at the Trop- 
ical. I’m Lyman Galt.” 

He looked forty. Dark hair was re- 
treating from his temples. His un- 
pressed suit was yielding to the mus- 
cular mass of his body, his collar was 
open to show a powerful neck. His 
wide brown face was criss-crossed 
with wrinkles of fatigue, and his dark 
tired eyes looked very solemn. 

“I got your letter.” Cartwright 
smoothed the crumpled envelope in 
his fingers. “It had a mighty serious 
sound.” He searched that broad wor- 
ried face. “About this — Holocaust?” 
“Very serious indeed.” 

Something in the deep timbre of 
Galt’s voice sent a queer little shudder 
through Cartwright. He caught his 
breath, and sat waiting. 

“I should tell you,” rang that sol- 
emn voice, “that we exerted our efforts 
to save your life in order that we 
might be justified in calling on you 
for aid. Yet we can’t ask you to join 
us out of gratitude alone — the thing 
is too big for that.” 

“Well?” Cartwright moved impa- 
tiently in his chair. “Just what is this 
menace? And what is it that your 
mysterious Utopia Corporation plans 
to do about it?” 

Galt sat impassively behind the big 
desk. 



“First,” he said, “I must tell you 
something about my associates — the 
three who jointly saved your life. 
But you have already met Pat Way- 
land, who made the serum — ” 
Cartwright shook his head. 

“No. But I’m anxious to thank 
him.” 

Galt smiled solemnly, and his dark 
unkempt head moved a little toward 
the reception room. 

“Pat,” he said, “is for Patricia.” 
“Eh!” Cartwright gulped. “I 
thought — ” 

“Others have been deceived,” Galt 
told him gravely. “That is an eccen- 
tricity of Pat’s. She isn’t easy to un- 
derstand.” 

He stared for a moment, silently, at 
the door. “She is a beautiful woman 
and a splendid scientist,” he said 
slowly. “It is better to forget that 
she is a woman. Just remember that 
she is a biologist who ranks with Men- 
del and Darwin, a psychologist who is 
the peer of Watson and Pavlov.” 
With a faint and somewhat bitter 
smile, Galt shrugged. 

“Pat’s brilliant discoveries,” he said, 
“form the very heart of our Plan.” 
“And,” Cartwright prompted him 
impatiently, “ — the Plan?” 

It seemed to Cartwright that a film 
of odd reticence obscured the frank- 
ness of Galt’s dark eyes. They looked 
away, evasively. Galt’s big fingers 
drummed nervously on the desk. He 
started to speak, checked himself. 

“Well?” Cartwright said. “You 
asked me here, to tell me about some 
approaching danger to the world, and 
a plan to avoid it. I’m listening.” 

Galt nodded. 

“First, before we go into any details 
of the Plan, I want you to see for your- 
self the scientific evidence of the ap- 
proaching Holocaust. It is a thing so 
tremendous that I could not ask you 
to accept it on my word alone. Dr. 
Worth and Captain Drumm will be 
here at dusk, to take you to our ob- 
servatory. You met Drumm, of course, 
in the jungle. Worth is our astron- 
omer. It was he who discovered the 
menace of the Holocaust.” 

“Drumm?” Cartwright made a be- 
wildered gesture. “The memory is 



THE FORTRESS OF UTOPIA 



21 



sort of mixed up with my delirium,” 
he said. “I remember him — a big man 
in a queer uniform. I erroneously 
thought he came in a machine shaped 
like an egg.” 

“He did,” said Galt. “That was our 
geoflexor, the Pioneer " 

Cartwright’s blue eyes blinked. 

“Worth discovered the principle of 
geodesic inflection twelve years -ago,” 
Galt told him. “It offers a means of 
direct reaction against the structure 
of space itself. Drumm helped design 
the Pioneer. It is an ellipsoid, pro- 




M4KTIN WORTH 



pelled by the space-warp created by 
the two terminal geodes — ” 

Cartwright got slowly and unstead- 
ily to his feet. Supporting himself 
with his hands, he leaned over the 
desk. He had a peculiar, uncomfort- 
able feeling of tiny cold feet chasing 
up and down his spine. 

“We were trying to fly a rocket to 
the Moon,” he whispered, “when you 
had — that?” 

“That’s it,” Galt said. “We first 
reached the Moon eleven years ago. 
Worth’s observatory was finished the 
same year — it’s on the central peak of 
Arzachel, between Ptolemy and Ty- 
cho. Drumm himself has also been to 



Mars and Venus, but the desperate 
urgency of the situation has left no 
time for any idle explorations.” 

C ARTWRIGHT gazed, unbeliev- 
ingly, at the small simple office, 
with its neat rows of filing cabinets 
along the wall. He saw a long panel 
of framed photographs, and blinked 
at them. 

“My few visitors,” Galt said, “usual- 
ly take them to be imaginative draw- 
ings.” 

Cartwright rubbed at his forehead. 
“Eleven years — that long?” he whis- 
pered. “Captain Drumm has been out 
exploring space — while the world was 
wallowing through the Depression!” 
He gave a short, mirthless little 
laugh. 

“So, even if we had made it, we 
wouldn’t have been the first. Poor 
little Delorme — he died for nothing!” 
“Why say that?” Galt asked sol- 
emnly. “Utopia, Incorporated, will 
keep its secrets intact. The world will 
never know what we have done.” 
“But what is the reason for your se- 
crecy?” Cartwright demanded in be- 
wilderment. 

“You will understand,” Galt prom- 
ised, “when you learn the Plan. Mean- 
time, I’ll summarize the reason as a 
deep mistrust of contemporary civili- 
zation— so-called.” 

His voice went on hollowly: 

“Could we give the geoflexor to the 
world — knowing that its chief use 
would be to rain bombs on cities?” 
He shrugged, and rose. “You’ve a 
couple of hours, before dusk. Would 
you care to look at Drumm’s Martian 
notes and photographs?” 

When two men entered the office 
at this point, Cartwright recognized 
the big adventurer at once. Tall, 
broad-shouldered, Drumm was mag- 
nificent in the crimson-and-gold of his 
fantastic uniform. He had crisp red- 
dish hair. Earnest blue eyes shone 
from the tanned stern simplicity of 
his face. 

“Cartwright!” His voice was a 
hearty boom. “So you’re to see the 
Moon, after all?” 

He introduced Martin Worth. The 
astronomer was a small thin man. His 



22 



STARTLING STORIES 



skin was very white. His retreating 
hair, heavy sloping brows, and small 
pointed beard, made a series of black 
V’s upon it. His dark eyes had a cyn- 
ical twinkle, and his nearly fleshless 
face bore an expression of perpetual 
sardonic amusement. 

Moving with the effortless gliding 
grace of a professional dancer, Worth 
came to Cartwright and shook his 
hand. All his motions were silent, 
quick, deft. 

“Cartwright, I recall you as part of 
a very interesting mathematical prob- 
lem.” His voice had a hushed, almost 
whispering quality. “I understand 
that Galt has chosen you to share our 
distressing discovery — if you will 
come with us to the Moon.” 

On a walled terrace outside, beneath 
a striped awning, they found the Pio- 
neer. Cartwright thought it looked 
oddly tiny, to bje a ship of space. 

A N egg of silvered metal, twelve 
feet in diameter and eighteen 
long. Criss-crossed with riveted seams, 
pierced with small round ports. 
Tipped, at each end, with a massive 
disk of red copper alloy. 

Folding steps led them through the 
heavy oval door, up through a tiny 
lock-chamber. They emerged upon a 
flat deck which divided the interior, a 
little below the center. Long seats 
and compact cabinets were built 
against the curve of the dome. 

An intricate-looking control board 
curved across one end, with larger ob- 
servation panels of thick fused quartz 
set in the steel hull above it. Striding 
toward it, Drumm paused to touch the 
curving metal overhead. 

“Two inches of a special nickel- 
chrome steel,” he said. “Laminated, 
welded, and riveted — forty tons of it. 
There are automatic shutters of the 
same for all the ports.” 

Little Martin Worth smiled his sar- 
donic sriiile. 

“And still,” he said softly, “a forty- 
gram meteor would smash quite a hole 
in it.” 

Drumm’s laugh rang loud under the 
dome. 

“Your viewing with alarm won’t 
scare Cartwright,” he said. “He has 



been to space in something worse than 
this.” He spun a bright wheel, and 
the heavy door clanged behind them. 
“The valve is sealed,” he said, “with 
five hundred pounds of pressure in a 
flexible hydraulic duct.” 

A motor beneath the deck hummed 
in a rising crescendo. Then abruptly 
the deck quivered to a mighty, muf- 
fled drumming reverberation. Cart- 
wright felt an odd little lurch, and 
wondered why the ship didn’t rise. 
He stepped toward one of the ports. 

“I thought—” 

His voice became a sob of dismay. 
He grasped frantically at the sliding 
emergency shutter. For he could see 
the bright-lit familiar panorama be- 
neath him — and it was tilting crazily ! 

A giddy faintness seized him, as the 
surface of the planet seemed to spin 
from beneath. The Earth was beside 
them. Beneath there was only a bot- 
tomless and terrible abyss of stars. 

“Better look back inside,” Worth’s 
suave voice advised. 

Cartwright did so, and his vertig- 
inous terror vanished. 

“I felt just as if the Earth was slid- 
ing out from under us,” he whispered. 

“A natural illusion,” the little as- 
tronomer told him. “The entire ship 
is included in the propulsive field of 
the main terminal geodes — those cop- 
per disks at the ends of the hull. 
Since each atom of the ship and our 
bodies is accelerated equally by the 
geoflexion reaction, there is no sense 
of motion. 

“But, for our comfort and conve- 
nience aboard, we have a secondary set 
of geodes installed below the deck. 
Our bodies are included in their field, 
while the hull is not. The result is a 
sense of force, which we adjust to an 
approximation of Earth-gravity.” 

Cartwright sank upon one of the 
long seats. 

“And I thought our cathion rocket 
was something modern 1” 

“The Pioneer isn’t any rocking 
chair.” Worth’s thin face was twisted 
with his sardonic grin. “A meteor the 
size of your hat could smash us into 
a ring around th ; Moon. And just 
wait till you’vi been in a dead 
pocket !” 



THE FORTRESS OF UTOPIA 



23 



S MII ;NG, Captain Drumm swung 
bar ; from the controls. 

“Don t let him get your goat, Cart- 
wright,” he boomed. “Mart sees the 
dark side — he was made that way. 
But we’ve been in dead pockets before, 
and got out again.” 

Cartwright looked uneasily at 
Worth’s satanic face. 

“What is a dead pocket?” 

“There are areas,” said the little as- 
tronomer, “usually in the vicinity of 
strong gravitational fields, where the 
geoflexor drive doesn’t work. The 
field simply doesn’t mesh. And there 
is a resistance in the coils that heats 
them dangerously. If we happen to 
hit anything while the geodes are 
dead, or if a coil burns out — ” 

He shrugged, and all the V’s grew 
sharper and more sinister on his face. 

“Don’t listen,” called the hearty 
voice of Captain Drumm. “Mart’s just 
a black pessimist. He can’t cross the 
street without expecting a taxi to get 
him.” 

But Cartwright remained uneasy. 
The rush of air grew to a scream 
about them, and faded. Cartwright 
went back to the port, and conquered 
that vertigo. He found the lights of 
the metropolis, a contracting star on 
the field of darkness behind. 

“We’re already out of the atmos- 
phere,” he said, and it was more like 
a question. “What’s the power?” 

The little astronomer lifted a hatch 
cover set flush in the deck. That 
drumming reverberation welled louder 
from below. 

“The power tubes.” Kneeling to 
point. Worth raised his voice. In the 
dark cramped space beneath the deck, 
a row of tall transparent cylinders 
shone dimly. “The silver cathode is 
at the focal point of an intense geodic 
field. The atomic fields are warped, 
and there is a swift emission of elec- 
trons. They are collected by the grid- 
element above. The potential is four 
hundred volts, the out-put of each tube 
about two thousand kilowatts.” 

Cartwright swayed again to his feet. 
“Atomic power!” he gasped. “And 
you had this back in 1927!” 

Then he groped at one of the long 
brass hand rails, for the ship had 



lurched sickeningly. It seemed to 
drop, hang, and drop again. He 
looked faintly at Martin Worth. 

“A dead pocket?” 

The little astronomer grinned sar- 
donically. 

“Not yet — we’re just feeling the 
edge of one.” 

Cartwright clung to the seat. He 
watched the broad red back of Cap- 
tain Drumm. The big space pilot had 
risen off his seat. He was leaning over 
the controls. Gold braid flashed as his 
hands moved with a lightning skill. 

“Chin up, Cartwright,” he boomed. 
“We’ll come through!” 

Cartwright looked uncertainly at 
the thin, somewhat diabolical smile of 
Martin Worth. He was glad that he 
Was a good sailor. Then he began to 
have a disquieting doubt that he was 
so good, after all. 

Then the ship dropped — and didn’t 
stop dropping. 

A gong clattered on the instrument 
panel, and there was a sudden reek of 
burned insulation. Drumm was des- 
perately busy at the controls. There 
was a deafening, head-splintering 
crash. And Cartwright’s world turned 
black. 



CHAPTER III 

The Holocaust to Come 



AY CARTWRIGHT was definite- 
ly surprised later to find himself 
lying unharmed on one of the long, 
bunk-like seats. The machinery of 
the Pioneer was drumming evenly 
again. He saw Martin Worth’s sar- 
donic grin. 

“Never mind, Cartwright!” 

Blue eyes smiling out of his deep- 
bronzed face, Captain Drumm looked 
back from the controls. 

“A meteor the size of a good par- 
ticle of dust always sounds like the 
end of the world,” he said. “And that 
feeling of weightlessness when the 
gravity-coils are dead is a thing the 
body has got to get adjusted to. Just 
take it easy and we’ll soon be on the 
Moon!” 




24 



STARTLING STORIES 



Cartwright stared in fascination at 
the bright mystery of the Moon’s ap- 
proaching face, which he and Delorme 
had striven so vainly to reach. He 
found the vast cragged ring of Arza- 
chel — it was hard to think that any 
human work would be waiting for 
them there. 

Captain Drumm set the Pioneer 
down gently upon the central peak. 
The throb of the geodes was suddenly 
still. 

“Hold on,” warned Drumm. “I’m 
cutting the gravity field.” 

Cartwright understood that caution 
when the reaction of unaccustomed 
muscles flung him painfully up against 
the metal dome. He rubbed his head. 
Something about weighing twenty-five 
pounds made him feel queerly giddy. 
His stomach was uneasy. 

Through a port, he glimpsed the 
stark moonscape. It was all high- 
lights and blackness. He forgot all 
his discomfort in a voiceless awe at its 
stern splendor. 

Worth had flung open the inner 
door of the little air-lock. Off their 
hooks he was dragging bulky suits of 
stiff, white-painted fabric. He thrust 
one of them at Cartwright. 

“My size ought to fit you,” he said. 
“It goes on like oldtime underwear.” 

Captain Drumm helped him into it. 
There was a double zipper, up the 
front, and the seam was sealed with 
air pressure in a flexible tube. 

“The breathing mixture — oxygen 
and helium — is in this shoulder tank,” 
Drumm informed him. “Adjust the 
valve until you can breathe comfort- 
ably. The main tank is good for three 
hours. The emergency, two more.” 

The tiny air-lock let them out, one 
at a time. Cartwright lost his balance 
as he stepped down upon the Moon, 
soared up again in an involuntary leap. 
Drumm caught him. For a moment 
he was breathless, gasping. 

“You’ve forgotten your valve.” 

Drumm turned it, for Cartwright 
was lost in wonder. 

The silver of it blinding in the 
westering Sun, the Pioneer lay upon a 
rugged, irregular summit, many acres 
in extent. A full mile below — so far 
that its convexity was instantly vis- 



ible — lay the crater floor. 

A cruel and lifeless desert, burning 
gray-white under the Sun. Riven with 
ragged cracks, pitted with thousands 
of circular craterlets. 

Thirty miles and more away, the 
walls of Arzachel thrust up. The 
jagged peaks beneath the Sun were 
etched in a fantastic dead-black sil- 
houette, and they flung an ink-black 
ragged shadow far across the plain of 
hell. 

The eastward rim raised pinnacles 
of fire against the appalling blackness 
of the star-hazed sky. All colors were 
sombre, dull-red, brown, smoky yel- 
low. 

C ARTWRIGHT flung back his 
head, in the stiff helmet, and 
found the Earth. It was northward 
from the zenith, a huge broad crescent, 
mistily blue-green. 

“Come.” Worth had touched his 
inflated sleeve, and the sound vibra- 
tions were transmitted faintly. “The 
observatory.” 

Waddling in the huge, white- 
painted suit, he made a fantastic fig- 
ure. Cartwright followed him. They 
rounded the silver egg of the ship, and 
climbed a narrow trail. Seeking to ad- 
just his muscles to one-sixth their 
usual burden, Cartwright lurched, 
stumbled. Suddenly he lost his bal- 
ance, toppled off the trail. 

Spinning downward, into a chasm 
of awesome night, he screamed — and 
knew there was no air to carry his cry. 
He plunged down for an endless time, 
picturing the sharp fangs of rock that 
waited down on the crater floor. 

Then a lasso settled around him. 

“I ran away to the west when I was 
thirteen.” Captain Drumm buckled 
the coiled lariat back to his belt. “And, 
remember, you fall only about two feet 
the first second, here.” 

“Thanks,” gasped Cartwright. 

At the top of the trail, on the high- 
est ragged peak, a silvered dome flung 
off blinding lances of the sun. Worth 
‘side a flimsy-seeming section 
of bright metal, to reveal a powerful 
telescope. 

“Only a twenty-four-inch mirror,” 
Worth said. “But the perfect seeing 



THE FORTRESS OF UTOPIA 



25 




here makes it more effective than the 
largest instrument on Earth. And we 
have a new fine-grain emulsion with 
sixty times the speed of anything used 
on Earth, which alone makes it the 
equivalent of the new two-hundred 
inch reflector they are building in Cal- 
ifornia.” 

His whispering voice was suddenly 
grave. 

“But this is what we came to show 
you.” 

The great tube swung toward the 
northward horizon, the floor-platform 
lifted them. Worth made Cartwright 
seat himself at the eyepiece. At first 
he saw only a circle of utter black, 
scattered with a few tiny hard atoms 
of light. 

Worth touched his arm, and sound 
came: 

“Notice the visibility — any astron- 
omer would give half his life for one 
night here! This is in Perseus, three 



“'Ready,” said Pat. ‘‘Five seconds of mathe- 
matics” ( Chapter V ) 

degrees from the double cluster. 
Look at the stars at the top of the field. 
Notice anything? 

“Fainter, maybe.” 

Worth’s whisper was solemn. 
“Don’t you see that their light is 
diffused?” 

“They’re misty,” Cartwright agreed. 
“They seem to have little halos.” 
“Exactly,” said the astronomer. 
“Because they are shining through the 
edges of a cloud. And there are other 
stars that have been blotted out com- 






26 



STARTLING STORIES 



pletely, because they are behind the 
cloud.” 

“What sort of cloud?” 

“To the eye, even with telescope, it 
is no more than a shadow on the stars. 
But here is a plate we took with the 
fast emulsion, and a twenty-hour ex- 
posure.” 

Worth snapped a switch. In a large 
square cabinet, a light went on. Trans- 
mitted rays illuminated a large photo- 
graphic plate. The same pattern of 
stars burned out, brilliantly. And 
across them was a black and ominous 
cloud. 

The astronomer’s arm went tense. 
“There it is — a dark nebula.” 

T HE center of it was a black globu- 
lar mass. That was flattened into 
a disk. And long vague spiral arms 
were flying from the edges of the disk. 

Staring, Cartwright repressed a 
faint shudder. There was something 
appalling about that cloud of dark- 
ness. The spiral arms of it looked 
somehow like the groping tentacles of 

some unpleasant monster. 

“I give up.” Fighting that shud- 
dery feeling, he tried to grin. “What 
is it?” 

Worth’s dark eyes, beyond the 
round face-plate in his helmet, looked 
so grave that Cartwright hastily 
erased the grin. 

“A stellar nebula,” said the little 
astronomer. “A cloud of gas and dust 
and meteoric debris, loosely held in 
its own gravitational field. 

“It is the sort of condensation, ac- 
cording to cosmogony, that should 
have formed a star. Perhaps its mass 
was a little too small, or its angular 
moment a little too great. Perhaps, 
billions of years from now, it will yet 
give birth to a star.” 

The bulky white suit made a little 
shrugging gesture. 

“That doesn’t matter.” 

“Well ?” demanded Cartwright. 
“What is it that does?” 

“The fact that the nebula is ap- 
proaching the Earth,” said Worth’s 
suave whisper. “My analysis of its 
spectral shift shows a relative radial 
velocity of nearly seventy miles a sec- 
ond. And it has no perceptible proper 



motion. That means that it is moving 
to intersect the path of the Sun and 
the planets, in Lyra. Collision is in- 
evitable.” 

“Collision!” Cartwright shook his 
head, peered. “And what will hap- 
pen?” 

“To the solar system, very little,” 
said the astronomer. “The nebula is 
quite diffuse. Its matter is scattered 
through a disk sixty billion miles 
across. Its mean density is what we 
should call a fairly hard vacuum. The 
Sun will surely pass through un- 
harmed. I think none of the planets 
will be lost — although the orbits of 
the asteroids and some of the smaller 
moons are apt to be affected by me- 
teoric collisions. But, for men, the 
outlook is less cheerful.” 

In the chill darkness beneath that 
metal dome upon the Moon, Cart- 
wright shuddered as if the deadly 
shadow of that stellar cloud had al- 
ready fallen upon him. He clutched 
at Worth’s stiff-clad arm. 

“What” — His voice was a croak — 

“what will happen to mankind?” 

Worth’s big helmet nodded at the 
telescope. 

HE picture is quite clear,” came 
-BL his whispering voice. “The first 
thing streamers of dust will absorb 
the sunlight, first the ultra-violet, 
finally even the red. The Sun will 
turn crimson, and then fade out. 

“That unnatural night will be a 
warning of the end. For several 
months, perhaps, the planet will be 
gripped in its bitter cold. Atmos- 
pheric moisture will fall as snow. 
Probably even the seas will freeze 
over. 

“But then, as the Earth drives into 
the denser clouds, there will be heat 
again — and light. That last day will 
be more terrible than the night. For 
its light will come from rains of 
meteors. 

“And that will be the end — a hail of 
fire. The meteors, falling ever faster, 
will burn the oxygen out of the at- 
mosphere. They will beat down on an 
asphyxiated, world. Their heat will 
vaporize ti : seas. Finally it will 
probably fu e even the smoking des- 



THE FORTRESS OF UTOPIA 



27 



erts that will then cf ver all the 
planet.” 

Worth stared out of th< dome for a 
moment, toward that in\i_ ible speck 
in the silver-dusted splendor of Per- 
seus. 

“After a few years,” he said at last, 
“the Sun will emerge unchanged be- 
yond the cloud. The planets will still 
attend it. But no spark of life will 
survive to repopulate them — unless 
our Plan succeeds.” 

“What can men do?” Cartwright 
shuddered. “What can they do, 
against — that?” 

“We have a Plan,” Worth assured 




him. “Galt organized the Utopia Cor- 
poration to carry it through. We have 
been working on it ten years. With 
your help, we have a chance — just a 
good chance.” 

“One thing,” Cartwright said ab- 
rutly. “How long have we?” 

The astronomer seemed to hesitate. 
Peering into the darkness of his hel- 
met, Cartwright was unable to see his 
face. His suave voice, when at last 
it came faintly through the contact of 
the suits, seemed curiously evasive: 
“My computations are not yet com- 
plete. And the boundaries of the neb- 



ula, as you can see for yourself, are 
rather indefinite.” 

“But you have an idea,” Cartwright 
insisted. “Is it two years? Five? 
Ten?” 

“I can promise that there will be 
time to carry out the Plan,” said 
Worth. “But very little to spare.” 

“Then how long will your Plan 
take?” 

“Galt will tell you,” the astronomer 
said, “when you get back to Earth.” 



CHAPTER IV 
The Fortress on the Moon 



ITTLE MARTIN WORTH an- 
nounced that he was going to re- 
main on the Moon, to continue his ob- 
servations of the approaching nebula. 
He showed Cartwright a twelve-foot 
ball of white-painted metal, half 
buried in the rock below the observa- 
tory. 

“An air-chamber,” he said. “I’ve a 
bunk in there. Food and water. Cyl- 
inders of oxygen and helium. My 
books and instruments. I have lived 
here half the time, for the last ten 
years.” 

Cartwright and Captain Drumm 
shook his thick-gloved hand, and 
climbed back down the trail to the 
argent egg of the Pioneer. The valve 
clanged behind them, and the little 
ship lurched and boomed away on the 
Earthward flight. 

Splendid in his gold-and-crimson, 
Drumm grinned back from the control 
board. His stern bronzed face was 
firmly set, but his steely blue eyes 
shone joyously. 

“Some job ahead of us, eh?” he 
shouted. “As big a job as four fight- 
ing men and a girl ever tackled! 
You’re lucky to be one of us, Jay. 
We—” 

The mighty thrum of the geodes 
faltered, and the little ship dropped. 
Cartwright’s stomach felt very un- 
comfortable again, and he snatched 
with trembling fingers for the brass 
handrails. 

Captain Drumm spun a bright 







28 



STARTLING STORIES 



wheel, tapped colored keys, carefully 
inched two small levers forward. That 
sickening fall ceased as abruptly as it 
had begun. The powerful throb of 
the geodes rolled evenly again. 

“Some sport, eh?” The tall pilot 
looked around, grinning. “You never 
know when you’re going to hit a dead 
pocket — Mart’s detector didn’t work. 
No particular danger — unless you ram 
something while you’re out of con- 
trol, or let the coils burn out. But 
they’re always good for a thrill.” 

Cartwright’s bewildered mind tried 
to sum up the details of the last few 
amazing hours. However, you took 
them, these people who called them- 
selves Utopia, incorporated, were a 
pretty remarkable group. 

There was little Worth, with his 
suave whispering voice and that dis- 
quieting satanic grin. Casually ma- 
rooning himself a quarter of a million 
miles from the nearest man! If any- 
thing went wrong with his flimsy 
pressure-suit, or his twelve-foot bub- 
ble of air — 

Cartwright tried not to shudder. 

There was Pat Wayland. The su- 
per-biolgoist, who contrived to look 
like a particularly gorgeous and par- 
ticularly dumb show-girl — and then, 
if you took her for one, said things 
that hurt. If she knew about the com- 
ing Holocaust, that helped to explain 
her. But Cartwright still wondered. 

Captain Drumm, himself. Splendid 
and fantastic man of action, who 
seemed to rejoice blithely in every 
emergency that called for his calm 
courage, his strength, and his skill. 
Those bright-polished boots of his had 
trodden the mystery of Venus and the 
deserts of Mars. 

And Lyman Galt. The big tired 
man who was director of mysterious 
Utopia, Incorporated; the planner of 
its mysterious Plan. Cartwright won- 
dered about Galt. Was it the tortur- 
ing knowledge of the Holocaust ahead 
that had hollowed his dark eyes, lined 
his weary face? 

T HE dark shadow of that coiling 
stellar cloud haunted Cartwright. 
It was like a monstrous, dark, serpen- 
tine thing, crawling and lurking amid 



his thoughts. 

Over and over again, he saw 
Worth’s picture of the end. The last 
red twilight, and the extinction of the 
Sun. The months of freezing night. 
And then the final rain of meteors, 
that would illumine the ghastly end 
of man. 

What possible refuge could there 
be? 

What Plan could Galt have 
planned? 

Why, Cartwright wondered, had 
Worth been so evasive about the time 
that was left? The thought flashed in 
his mind that all this might be a fraud, 
to get his hundred and forty millions. 
Instantly he dismissed the suspicion. 
Whatever Galt and his asociates were, 
certainly they were not common crimi- 
nals. 

He did wish, however, that Worth 
had been more frank. 

It was three o’clock in the morn- 
ing when Captain Drumm brought the 
Pioneer gently down on the terrace 
outside the Manhattan offices of 
Utopia, Incorporated. But the lights, 
inside, were still on. Weary-eyed, 
Lyman Galt looked up from a moun- 
tain of papers on his desk. 

“I’ve seen the nebula,” Cartwright 
told him. “Worth told me about this 
disaster he expects — though he was 
too reticent about when he expects it. 
Now I am ready to hear about your 
Plan.” 

Galt’s dark, red-rimmed eyes 
studied his face. 

“You are willing to consider invest- 
ing your fortune in the Plan?” 

“If it offers any reasonable hope of 
escape from the Holocaust that Worth 
described — I am. But I’m free to say 
that my pessimism is deep.” 

“Once, so we are told,” Galt said 
slowly, “when men had warning of a 
deluge of water, they built an ark in 
which the seed of life was preserved. 
Now we are threatened with another 
deluge — a deluge of fire. In a prop- 
erly constructed refuge, isn’t it possi- 
ble v lat men might survive again, and 
emer, e to build a new world?” 

His hollow eyes looked musingly 
far away. 

“To build,” he ended, “a real Uto- 



THE FORTRESS OF UTOPIA 



29 



“And that — is the Plan?” murmured 
Cartwright. 

Galt nodded. 

“Yes. We are going to build a cita- 
del on the Moon. It will be a fortress 
against all the possible vicissitudes of 
the Holocaust. In it, we shall pre- 
serve the selected flower of mankind, 
and other life to seed the world again, 
and a record of all the best things man 
has done in every field of art and 
science.” 

“But can any building,” Cartwright 
objected, “survive the cataclysm that 
Worth expects?” 

Galt nodded again. 

“We have been ten years drawing 
up the Plan, and it is complete.” He 
pulled open a drawer of the scarred 
desk. “Here are the blueprints of the 
citadel.” 

“Wait,” said Cartwright. “I’ve an- 
other question to ask — the one that 
Worth evaded. How long have we to 
build this citadel?” 

“The Plan allows a year.” 

“That isn’t what I mean.” Cart- 
wright leaned over the desk. “How 
long is it before the Earth will collide 
with the nebula?” 

G ALT’S broad, frank face twisted 
with a little expression of pain, 
and his dark eyes looked away from 
Cartwright. 

“Worth assures me that we have 
time to carry out the Plan — if we be- 
gin at once. Beyond that, he isn’t defi- 
nite. His observations are unfinished, 
you know.” 

Cartwright hesitated, shrugged. 
“Well, if you can’t answer that 
question, here’s another — why build 
the fortress on the Moon?” 

Again Galt looked away. 

“For several reasons,” he said at 
last. “First, secrecy is essential, to 
avoid a useless premature panic. Sec- 
ond, the work can be carried forward 
more rapidly, under the Moon’s 
lighter gravitation. Third, and most 
important, the Moon will be a safer 
location, after the Holocaust begins, 
because the Earth’s gravitational field 
will catch most of the meteors that 
would otherwise strike the Moon’s 



Earthward face. Now, the blue- 
prints.” 

Somehow, that explanation was not 
quite convincing to Cartwright. 
There was still an evasion in Galt’s 
manner. But he knew no way past it. 
Yielding, he bent over the plans. 

“The citadel will be built on and 
under the central peak of Arzachel, 
where Worth’s observatory now 
stands,” Galt told him. “In fact, we’ll 
keep the same observatory, but protect 
it with a heavier dome.” 

His thick fingers pointed out a cross 
section of the peak. 

“In this heavily armored building 
on the peak will be landing facilities 
for the Pioneer, observation rooms, 
and living accommodations. The 
greater part of the citadel, however, 
will be down here, at this point, nine 
thousand feet below. 

“These elevators, through a series 
of heavy valves, will communicate 
with the galleries, here. Or vaults, I 
should say. They will be lined with 
reinforced concrete — as secure as 
modern engineering can make them, 
against every possible disaster. 

“These vaults will hold our books, 
pictures, sound-film containers — all 
the treasury of modern civilization. 
Our stores of food and implements 
will be there, the tanks of water and 
oxygen, the power plants.” 

“And how many,” inquired Cart- 
wright, “are you going to admit to the 
second ark?” 

Once again Galt looked uncomfort- 
ably away. 

“Only a small group,” he said. “We 
have not yet settled the exact num- 
ber.” His dark eyes swung back to 
Cartwright, with a challenging force. 
“Now,” he said, “you have heard the 
Plan. Will you help us?” 

Cartwright met his eyes. 

“There’s something that Worth 
didn’t tell me,” he said. “Something 
that you haven’t told me. If I am go- 
ing to invest a hundred million dol- 
lars in your Plan, don’t you think I 
have the right to know all about it?” 

Galt’s hollow, blood-shot eyes re- 
turned his gaze, steadily. 

“Believe me, Cartwright, I have 
told you all I can.” He hesitated, and 



30 



STARTLING STORIES 



when he spoke again a huskiness had 
come into his voice. “I hope very 
much that you decide to join us.” 

fffWpHE Plan, of course, will go on 
-M. — whether you help or not. 
Drumm is willing to turn pirate, with 
the Pioneer. We have several inter- 
esting gadgets that you haven’t seen. 
We can get the money we must have. 
But we’d lose time, and I’d like to 
have you, Cartwright, with the Cor- 
poration.” 

Cartwright was slowly nodding. 

“I believe you, Galt,” he said. “I 
like your associates, and, after all, I 
owe them my life. I’m sorry for 
whatever keeps you from speaking 
more fully. But I’m with you — all the 
way.” 

“Thank you, Jay — for mankind.” 

“For mankind,” echoed Jay Cart- 
wright, softly. 

For he thought he had seen, sud- 
denly, the reason for all of Worth’s 
and Galt’s evasions. The Utopia Cor- 
poration, obviously, could save only a 
few human beings in that refuge on 
the Moon. Theirs would be the su- 
preme responsibility of building Uto- 
pia, after the Holocaust. For that 
great task, only perfect human speci- 
mens must be selected. 

The whole mystery, Cartwright had 
decided, was simply that Worth and 
Galt hated to tell him that he wasn’t 
fit to be taken. 

It was on his tongue to tell Galt 
what he had guessed. But a man’s dis- 
like of emotional scenes made him 
keep silent. After all, Cartwright 
thought, he was not exceptional. If 
not for those inherited millions, he 
might have been driving a taxi. 

And, if he didn’t belong to the 
flower of humanity, at least he could 
be big enough to stand back and make 
room for those who did. 



CHAPTER V 
The Ideophore 



B UT the next day, finding his pa- 
tient mysteriously exhausted. 



Dr. Corken ordered Jay Cartwright 
to Florida to complete his conva- 
lescence. Forced to keep silent about 
his midnight trip to the Moon, Cart- 
wright objected in vain. He carried 
the appeal to Galt. 

“I want to help with the Plan,” he 
told the big tired man. “I’m going to 
sign the checks, of course. But, be- 
sides that, I want to really do some- 
thing.” 

“All right,” Galt promised. “After 
you come back.” 

Basking on the Floridian beaches, 
reading in newspapers the familiar 
stories of murders, strikes, and 
threatened wars, Cartwright found 
that the Utopia Corporation faded 
into a curious unreality. The night 
on the Moon seemed a dream. Worth’s 
stellar nebula became a nightmare 
that he wanted to forget. A doubt 
arose in him. 

Could it be possible that all this 
world — of people who fought wars 
and fell in love and worked in fac- 
tories and made millions and pan- 
handled dimes for cups of coffee and 
caught the eight-fifty and climbed 
mountains to see the sunrise and sued 
each other for divorce and jammed 
the subways and jumped out of win- 
dows and risked their lives for duty 
and fixed traffic tickets and held up 
banks and complained about high 
taxes and played in parks and delib- 
erated in the Senate and looked in 
shop windows — could it be that all 
these people were doomed, unsuspect- 
ingly, just by a tiny shadow on the 
stars? 

Tanned and stronger, his arm as 
good as new again, Cartwright carried 
that doubt with him back to New 
York. 

He found a little cubicle waiting for 
him in the offices of Utopia, Incorpor- 
ated. On the desk was a pile of bills, 
for tools and steel and cement and 
wages and electrical machinery and 
books and microfilm copies and scien- 
tific instruments, that reached a stag 
gering — and very real — total. 

With their story of a huge work .1 
progress, those invoices swept his 
doubt away. He spent a morning sign- 
ing checks. When the desk was clear. 



THE FORTRESS OF UTOPIA 



31 



he went into Galt’s office and said: 

“I’m ready for that job.” 

The big director smiled across his 
cluttered desk. 

“Captain Drumm has been ferrying 
our materials and labor to the Moon,” 
Galt said. “But really his time is all 
needed to boss the construction 
there.” His tired hollow eyes studied 
Cartwright. “Do you want to fly the 
Pioneer to the Moon tonight?” 

Cartwright gaped, astonished. 

“Tonight?” 

“We’ve a barge load of steel, wait- 
ing in the yard at Youngstown,” Galt 
told him. “And Drumm must get back 
to his job.” 

“I learned to pilot Delorme’s 
rocket,” Cartwright said uncertainly. 
“But the geoflexor looks terribly com- 
plicated, with those dead pockets to 
get out of, and all. I wouldn’t know 
how to start — not tonight.” 

OMETHING made Galt’s dark 
eyes twinkle. 

“Pat can fix you up,” he said, “with 
her ideophore.” 

Cartwright stared at him. 

“What’s that?” 

“You’ll soon know from experience 
— and it’s an experience you won’t 
forget. I’ll call Drumm, to supply the 
copy.” 

Cartwright had not seen Pat Way- 
land’s “offices.” Tables in the small 
rooms were crowded with micro- 
scopes, centrifuges, glassware, but 
most of the equipment was unfamiliar 
to him. 

Pat Wayland herself rose abruptly 
from a bench covered with the delicate 
glistening metal parts of some small 
machine, and several odd-shaped 
vacuum tubes. Her platinum head 
was high. She smiled at Galt and 
Captain Drumm, with a disarming 
sweetness in her wide blue eyes. 

“Yes, this is the convention head- 
quarters,” she said limpidly. “And 
I’m not a bit busy. I was just idling 
away the time looking for a couple of 
bugs in the tau-ray. I’m glad you 
came along — I’ll be wanting to test it.” 

“Now, darling,” protested Captain 
Drumm, “you wouldn’t want to make 
us forget that we love you.” 




Her doll-face dimpled to a sac- 
charine smile. 

“Just wait and see.” 

Galt’s big brown hand made a little 
hasty gesture. Cartwright thought 
that his dark tired face showed a 
flicker of pain. 

“Will you hook up the ideophore 
for us, Pat?” he asked. “Captain 
Drumm is going to teach Cartwright, 
here, how to fly the Pioneer.” 

“Okay, Chief.” Her smile was 
dazzling. “But the lesson had better 
be limited to astrogation. If Cart- 
wright picks up any of that honey bee 
stuff, it’s the tau-ray for both of 
them.” 

“Don’t worry your pretty little 
head,” returned Captain Drumm. “Do 
you think I want a rival?” 
“Remember, Cap,” the girl said 
sweetly, “just what the tau-ray is.” 
Her serene blue eyes smiled breath- 
takingly into Cartwright’s face. “This 
is the ideophore. Just sit down.” 
Cartwright stepped back uneasily 
from the thing she pointed out. It 
looked disturbingly like an electric 
chair. There was a huge shining hel- 
met, connected by a heavy cable with a 




32 



STARTLING STORIES 



tall black cabinet on wheels. 

“Wha — what is it?” 

Pat Wayland beckoned again. 

“If you really want to know” — she 
smiled ominously — “I’ll give you five 
seconds of radio-psychology. Which 
is as much as a college could teach you 
in eight years — if any colleges taught 
radio-psychology.” 

“Better not take too much at once,” 
Galt advised him, “or you’ll have a 
splitting head. I’ll try to explain 
something about it. You remember 
the ten-cycle brain waves recently dis- 
covered? Well, Pat has found some 
subtler, higher-frequency brain emana- 
tions. The ideophore makes use of 
them. Briefly, it can be described as 
an electrical educator. 

NOWLEDGE and memory, 
Jim as Pat has proved, are really 
matters of bipolar moment and intra- 
molecular potential, within the neu- 
rone cells. Her brain-ray pick-up 
scans that electrical pattern of knowl- 
edge, very much as the electron beam 
scans the photo-electric image in an 
iconoscope. The process, of course, 
is far more delicate and complex. But 
knowledge is converted, in essentially 
the same way, into electrical impulses. 

“Those impulses can be transmitted 
through a special coaxial cable. They 
can be amplified, with special electron 
tubes. And, finally, through a phe- 
nomenon that Pat calls neuro- 
resonance, they can set up new bipolar 
moments and intra-moleeular poten- 
tials, in another brain. 

“The ideophore, that is, can pick up 
knowledge from one brain, and trans- 
fer it almost instantly to another. 
There is a delicate system of tuning, 
which, with the cooperation of the 
teacher, makes it possible to select the 
subject to be taught.” Galt turned to 
the girl. “Is that right, Pat?” 

Pat Wayland smiled at him. 

“You could do with about ten sec- 
onds of radio-psychology yourself.” 
She looked at Cartwright, and her 
platinum head nodded at the ideo- 
phore. Reluctantly, Q artwright 
climbed into the massive chair. There 
were padded straps for his wrists and 
ankles. “For your own protection,” 



Pat said sweetly. “There is an invol- 
untary spastic muscular reaction.” 

The alarming helmet was lowered 
over his head. Captain Drumm stood 
behind- the chair, with his head be- 
tween two polished metal plates. Pat 
took her place at the intricate controls 
on the wheeled cabinet. Motor-con- 
verters hummed, and then a keen 
ominous whine stabbed into Cart- 
wright’s brain. 

“Ready,” said Pat. “Five seconds 
of mathematics, and the theory and 
practise of astrogation. Now!” 

Cartwright heard the switch click — 
and then his world was shattered un- 
der an avalanche of agony. A million 
searing needles probed into his brain. 
Intolerable flame blinded him. Thun- 
der bellowed in his ears. 

He tried to count the eternal sec- 
onds. One. And two. But he felt as 
if the torture had already lasted min- 
utes, hours. His awareness was flung 
away on a hurricane of flame. He was 
blanked out. 

Then it was over. Galt helped lift 
the helmet, free his bruised, aching 
wrists and ankles. Sweat drenched 
him. He relaxed in the big chair, pant- 
ing. 

“If you want something tough,” 
boomed Captain Drumm, “have Mart 
Worth give you twenty seconds of as- 
tronomy — that would burst a billiard 
ball. Or try half a minute of Pat’s 
own bio-psychology.” 

The throbbing ache stilled in Cart- 
wright’s head. A few hours later, 
when he stood beside Captain Drumm 
at the curved control-board of the 
Pioneer, he was a little surprised to 
find that he knew the exact function 
of every dial and wheel and lever. 

Without a word of prompting, he 
checked all the instruments, climbed 
down through the hatch to inspect the 
power tubes and the geoflexor circuits 
in the cramped space beneath the deck, 
and finally lifted the Pioneer smoothly 
into the twilight above Manhattan. 

“I don’t understand it.” Cartwright 
shook a bewildered yellow head. 
“But I know how to fly the ship. Pat’s 
ideophore is a wonderful gadget.” 
“Pat” — Drumm’s voice was grave — 
“is altogether a wonderful person.” 



THE FORTRESS OF UTOPIA 



33 



OU love her, don’t you?” 
Cartwright looked into 
Drumm’s bronzed face. “Somehow I 
picked up that impression, along with 
the science of geodic astrogation.” 
Drumm’s red head nodded soberly. 
“My mind must have slipped a mo- 
ment — it’s hard to forget that you love 
Pat Wayland. I think all three of us 
do. I try to make a joke out of it. 
God help you, if you ever leave your- 
self open to Pat’s peculiar humor. 
Mart Worth never says anything, but 
he keeps her picture, out there on the 
Moon. But probably it’s the most 
serious with Galt.” 

“And how does Pat feel?” 

The Pioneer, just then, lurched 
upon the brink of a dead pocket. With 
a swift and almost unconscious skill, 
Cartwright returned the geoflexors. 
With no thought of that vertiginous 
sickness that had troubled him at first, 
he brought the little ship past the 
danger, and looked again at Captain 
Drumra. 

“I don’t understand Pat.” 

Drumm shrugged. 

“Who does? The simplest theory 
is that the woman in her quarreled 
with the scientist — and the scientist 
won. My own theory is that she has 
something in her life that she never 
speaks about. I don’t know — ” 

He sighed, and the red-uniformed 
shoulders drew straight. 

“You avoided that dead pocket very 
well. Jay. You can pick up the barge 
at Youngstown and head for the Moon. 
I’m going to sleep.” 

He sprawled himself on one of the 
long seats against the curving hull, 
and pulled a rug over him. 

Cartwright had wondered how hun- 
dreds of workmen and thousands of 
tons of material were carried to the 
Moon in the tiny Pioneer. Now he 
knew the answer. They weren’t. 
With far more power than was needed 
to lift herself alone, the little geo- 
flexor served as a tug-boat of space. 

The “barge” waiting by the night- 
shrouded railway siding in Ohio was 
a white-painted forty-foot sphere of 
welded steel. Cartwright dropped the 
Pioneer upon it, made fast a magnetic 
coupling, waved at a bewildered-look- 



ing yard clerk, and then soared up into 
the night, toward the tarnished plat- 
ter of the waning Moon. 

Four hours later, dropping toward 
the Moon, Cartwright was amazed at 
the change that a month — and a few 
of his millions — had made in the cen- 
tral peak of Arzachel, now a hive of 
activity. Busy figures in white 
swarmed over the mountain. Big elec- 
tric-powered caterpillar shovels had 
already leveled the mile-high summit. 
And the excavations were already in 
progress, for he saw gray slopes of 
rubble beneath the black mouths of 
half a dozen tunnels. 

A row of white spheres, lying on 
the pitted crater floor, made quarters 
for the men. Light awnings covered 
the machine shops, there. Cable-borne 
telephers carried workmen and ma- 
terials to the tunnels and the new 
mesa above. 

Captain Drumm put on a white pres- 
sure suit, shook Cartwright’s hand, 
and climbed out of the Pioneer. Cart- 
wright uncoupled the barge, picked 
up an empty, and started back to 
Earth. Dawn was breaking when he 
dropped the little geoflexor on its ter- 
race in Manhattan, and took a taxi to 
his hotel. 

T HAT night he flew another load 
to the Moon, and every night. 
He tried to accustom himself to think- 
ing of the Holocaust. Sometimes, 
after he had waked and breakfasted in 
the afternoon, he sat for a little while 
in the hotel lobby, just watching peo- 
ple. 

He couldn’t help staring at people, 
with a kind of horrified fascination. 
It was terrible to know that all the 
dates, the deals, the jobs, the shows, 
the dinners, the shopping tours, the 
sights, the visits to the Fair — that all 
those things, seeming so important, 
meant nothing at all. 

Sometimes he was tormented with 
a wild irrational desire to stand up and 
scream out the maddening truth: 
THE HOLOCAUST IS COMING! 
YOU ARE DOOMED! ALL MEN 
ARE DOOMED! 

But he always held his tongue. 
Galt was right. It was better that 




34 



STARTLING STORIES 



they should enjoy this unsuspecting 
happiness, until the end. Sometimes 
he regretted his own shrewd guess — 
that he must be left outside the citadel, 
to perish with these thousands that he 
watched. 

But — and it was fortunate, he knew 
— he had little time for such appalled 
reflections. Each nightly flight to the 
Moon took nine or ten hours. And he 
spent two hours every afternoon in 
his tiny office, busy with the details of 
liquidating his fortune and applying 
it to the vast demands of the work on 
the Moon. 

His admiration for his companions 
grew. He often saw Mart Worth or 
Drumm for a few minutes on the 
Moon; sometimes one or the other of 
them came back with him for a few 
days on Earth. And once Pat Way- 
land went with him to the Moon, ac- 
companied by mysterious crates and 
boxes from her laboratory. 

The wonders of space were still 
novel to the girl. Lost in the splendor 
of far-off stars, she seemed to forget 
her odd resentment at his own ad- 
miration. It was no wonder that the 
others all loved her. 

A few things happened, however, 
that stirred his old mistrust about the 
Utopia Corporation. One incident 
concerned the men sent back from the 
Moon. 

These were laborers who, injured or 
ill or merely tired, asked to be re- 
turned to Earth. They were brought 
back in the big steel barges, or, some- 
times when there were only two or 
three, aboard the Pioneer itself. 

And Cartwright was appalled, once, 
when he asked a hairy dark-faced 
construction foreman how long he had 
been at work on the Moon. The man 
hitched up his overalls and shifted 
his cud of tobacco and stared. 

“The Moon. You plumb crazy, Mis- 
ter? I ain’t never been out of Ohio 
in my life, till you give me this plane 
ride.” 

A few other injuries, among the 
tired men he was disembarking in the 
darkness on the outskirts of Youngs- 
town, revealed that none of them had 
any recollection whatever of the 
months they had labored on the Moon. 



And any suggestion of the truth filled 
them with a curious anger. 

That seemed faintly sinister to Cart- 
wright, and he mentioned the matter 
to Galt. 

The big tanned man stood up slowly 
behind his desk, shaking his unkempt 
head. It seemed to Cartwright that 
his broad fatigue-lined face had an ex- 
pression of deep regret. 

“You understand, Jay, that secrecy 
is essential. We have to preserve it. 
In the case of these men, or of any 
of the men involved in our operation, 
we use another psychological gadget, 
of Pat’s. You have seen how she can 
put things in your head, with the 
ideophore. Well, with the tau-ray, 
she can take them out just as easily.” 

^^PHERE’S something, about 
JL this,” Cartwright said flatly, 
“that I don’t like.” 

Galt came to him heavily, and took 
his arm. 

“Perhaps I don’t, either. Jay,” his 
tired voice said. “But it is the only 
way.” His fingers tightened. “Please, 
Jay — whatever happens, don’t lose 
faith in Utopia, Incorporated.” 

Cartwright’s faith was very nearly 
shattered, however, by a newspaper 
headline. Months had gone. It was 
spring. The nights had become too 
short to cover the flights of the 
Pioneer. He had gone to sleeping 
aboard on the Moon. He got the paper 
on one of his midnight trips to Man- 
hattan. 

NEBULA THREATENS EARTH! 

He read the black streamer with a 
sinking heart. It must mean that 
months of effort had been in vain. The 
secret was out. Now there would be 
panic. Then, reading the story, he 
stiffened with a puzzled anger. 

The end of the world will come by collis- 
ion with a stellar nebula, according to an an- 
nouncement made last night by Dr. Lionel 
Haught, of Mt. Wilson Observatory. 

This menacing object, discovered by Dr. 
Haught, is a huge spiral cloud of gas and 
meteoric debris, now located in the direction 
of the constellation Perseus. 

All life, Dr. Haught predicts, will be swept 
from the solar system by the meteoric rains 



THE FORTRESS OF UTOPIA 



35 




of the collision. But our generation, he as- 
sured reporters, doesn’t have to worry about 
what will happen when Earth meets nebula. 

Because that event won’t take place — if 
it does at all — for more than two centuries. 
Dr. Haught’s calculations have placed the 
probable date of collision as the year 2170 
A. D. 

Cartwright stared at a blurred half- 
tone. It was the same spiral-armed 
cloud that Worth had showed him 
from the observatory on the Moon. 
And a cold aching sickness grew in 
his heart. 

Galt and the others had tricked 
him. His guess about the reason for 
their evasions was obviously wrong. 
He shook his yellow head, bewilder- 
edly. What was the use in rushing 
completion of the citadel on the Moon, 
two hundred years and more ahead of 
any possible danger? 

What, really, was the Utopia Cor- 
poration’s great Plan? 

Now, Cartwright decided grimly, he 
was going to find out. 



CHAPTER VI 
The Vault of Sleep 



W ITH the newspaper crumpled 
in a quivering hand, Cart- 
wright walked into the office of Ly- 
man Galt. Hollow-eyed with fatigue. 



The central peak of Arzachel was a hive of 
activity ( Chapter V ) 





36 



STARTLING STORIES 



the big director of the Utopia Cor- 
poration looked up from his untidy 
desk. 

Cartwright flung the paper down in 
front of him. 

“Well, Galt.” His voice was brittle. 
“I’ve come this time to get the truth, 
all of it. You’ve put me off long 
enough.” 

Galt leaned slowly back in the big 
chair, lacing brown fingers together 
over his stomach. His broad brown 
face twisted into a pained grimace. 
His lips set, and he said nothing. 

Cartwright leaned over the desk. 

“I had thought,” his tense voice 
rapped, “that you were evading the 
truth to spare my feelings — because 
you had judged me unfit to be saved. 
But evidently I was mistaken. There 
have been a good many things I didn’t 
understand, and several that I didn’t 
like. Now — if you want my John 
Henry on any more checks — just what, 
really, is your Plan?” 

For a long time Galt’s hollow, red- 
rimmed eyes stared fixedly at Cart- 
wright. At last he nodded, as if in 
decision. His fingers unlaced. A big 
brown hand fumbled unconsciously in 
his pocket for pipe and pouch. 

“I’ve been wanting to tell you, Jay,” 
he said. “When you hear, you’ll un- 
derstand my hesitation.” He gestured 
with the pipe-stem. “Sit down. Jay.” 

Cartwright pulled the chair up 
close. 

“Haught’s conclusions are surpris- 
ingly accurate.” Galt touched the 
black headline. “Worth’s own date 
for the Holocaust is also 2170. That 
means we have about two hundred and 
thirty years to carry out the Plan.” 

“If we have over two hundred 
years,” Cartwright demanded, “why 
are you rushing to complete the 
citadel in one?” 

“When the Holocaust comes,” Galt 
said soberly, “the citadel will be no 
use at all. The surface of the Moon, 
like that of the Earth, will probably 
be fused to a depth of thousands of 
feet. Men can’t live under seas of 
molten lava.” 

He made an ominous little gesture 
with the unlit pipe. 

“No, Jay.” His dark head shook. 



“There is nothing at all, in the present 
state of scientific advancement, that 
offers any hope whatever of survival 
through the Holocaust.” His voife 
rang hollowly. “If the Earth passes 
through the nebula, it will emerge a 
sterile planet.” 

“But perhaps,” Cartwright put. in 
hopefully, “science, in two hundred 
and thirty years, will advance far 
enough to do something about it.” 

Galt’s unkempt head shook again. 

“I don’t think so — not without our 
Plan.” His big hand opened the news- 
papers. “Look here. Nothing but un- 
employment, graft, strikes, war. No, 
Jay, the tide of civilization is ebbing 
again. 

“There is another Dark Age ahead — 
an age of want and pestilence and war 
and ignorance and degraded barbarism 
— unless we carry through our Plan.” 

“Well?” Cartwright leaned for- 
ward. “What is the Plan?” 

ALT laid his pipe on the littered 
desk. 

“If you didn’t know Pat and Worth 
and Captain Drumm — if you hadn’t 
seen the ideophore and the Pioneer 
and the beginnings of the citadel — 
you would scoff at the Plan. But I 
think you have been prepared.” 

“I’m expecting something pretty 
remarkable,” Cartwright admitted. 
“Let’s have it.” 

Galt rose, with an odd and somehow 
ominous little smile. 

“We have a barge load of equipment 
and chemicals ready to go to the 
Moon,” he said. “I’ll send Pat out 
with you, to demonstrate exactly how 
the Plan is to work.” 

Some grave undertone in his voice 
sent a tremor up and down Cart- 
wright’s spine. 

“Can’t you just tell me? Now?” 

Galt beckoned him inexorably to- 
ward the door. 

“Pat will be ready in half an hour.” 

Cartwright waited impatiently on 
the terrace, above the lights and the 
subdued endless sound of the city. 
Pat Way land appeared at last, stum- 
bling under a huge carton marked 
“Fragile.” He helped her with it, and 
she thanked him with a sweetness that. 




THE FORTRESS OF UTOPIA 



37 



for once, seemed unalloyed with 
poison. 

“Now?” he said. “About the Plan?” 

“Don’t ask questions,” she advised 
him sweetly. “I’ll show you, on the 
Moon.” 

“All right,” he said. “But no more 
tricks.” 

The Pioneer lifted above the city’s 
sprawling lights. Softly drumming, 
it settled into a roofless abandoned 
warehouse in Newark, to pick up the 
loaded barge. As it boomed away, 
toward the Moon, Pat Wayland stood 
near Cartwright, looking into space. 

“Splendid, isn’t it, Jay?” Her voice 
was soft with awe. “It’s terrible and 
inspiring and beautiful. Perhaps, if 
our Plan goes through, men will live 
to look upon it for a million years. 
Perhaps they will even become a real 
part of it, and not just a few insignifi- 
cant vermin clinging to a mote of 
dust.” 

The throb of the geodes abruptly 
faltered. The little ship lurched, at 
the edge of a dead pocket, so that the 
girl was flung against Cartwright. As 
his hands moved, with a practiced and 
almost unconscious skill, to keep them 
out of the perilous dead area, he was 
aware of the warm vibrant contact of 
her body. Her blond fragrant hair 
brushed his face. 

She laughed, softly, with a mur- 
mured apology. 

“You know, Jay, this is like one of 
those rides at Coney Island.” 

He caught her arm, steadied her. 

“Pat,” he whispered, “you’re human 
tonight. I really believe you have a 
heart.” 

Her blue eyes went dark with pain. 

“I had one,” she said softly. “Once.” 

“Don’t you think you could find it 
again?” He saw her sharp little ges- 
ture, and went on hastily. “Even if 
not for me — though you must know I 
love you, Pat. I tried not to fall for 
you — I knew it would be no dice. But 
- — I do love you.” 

He saw her face, in the pale rays of 
the growing Moon, and it was stony 
white. 

“Don’t any of us have a chance?” he 
asked her. “You know that Drumm 
loves you — and tries to hide it, with 



his banter. Don’t you know that Mart 
Worth treasures your picture, among 
his astronomical plates? Don’t you 
realize that Galt is eating his heart 
out for you — and never saying a 
word?” 

“Do you think I don’t know?” 

T HE little sound she made began 
like a sob, but it ended with a 
little silvery laugh. Cartwright 
shrugged, wearily. 

“All right, Pat. If you want to be 
the goddess of science — go ahead !” 
Her smooth face flushed, and wrath 
smouldered in her eyes. 

“When you are angry,” he told her, 
“you look more beautiful than ever.” 
“Cliche.” Her voice had its old 
infuriating sugar-sweetness. “Per- 
haps Drumm should give you another 
lesson, with the ideophore. Now, I’ve 
work to do.” 

She went back to the folding desk 
at the rear of the deck, and Cartwright 
tried to keep his mind on the job of 
taking the Pioneer safely out to the 
Moon. 

“Whatever bit Pat,” he told himself, 
“it wasn’t the love-bug.” He stared at 
the mottled, expanding globe ahead. 
“Or maybe it was !” 

The Pioneer dropped toward the 
stark, high-walled plain of Arzachel. 
Thrusting out its black triangle of 
shadow, the central peak lifted 
swiftly. 

The citadel, during these months of 
labor, had taken swift form. An im- 
mense disk of white concrete crowned 
the flattened summit. A smaller disk, 
upon it, left a circular terrace. The 
dome of Worth’s observatory rose 
from the center of the upper disk. 

Cartwright set the white barge upon 
the lower terrace. Stevedores in 
bulky white suits swarmed out of 
valves in the curving wall, to unload it. 
He dropped the Pioneer in its own 
cradle, locked and sealed the valves, 
and grinned back at Pat. 

“All right, diamond lady,” he said. 
“I’m ready to be told about your 
Plan.” 

Captain Drumm and Martin Worth 
were waiting for them in the corridor 
within. Magnificent as ever in a new 



38 



STARTLING STORIES 



crimson uniform, Drumm seized the 
girl’s hand. 

“Welcome, darling, to our little 
love-nest on the Moon. We’ve got 
your room all decorated. It is pink, 
with a frieze of Cupids — ” 

“Wouldn’t you like it for yourself?” 
Pat asked sweetly. “But — is Jay’s 
room ready?” 

“Eh?” It seemed to Cartwright that 
Captain Drumm and the little astrono- 
mer looked at one another with some- 
thing like consternation. “Of course 
— but why?” 

“We must show it to him,” the girl 
said, limpidly. “It seems that Jay has 
been asking some questions about the 
Plan, and Lyman agreed to let him 
have a demonstration.” 

“Oh !” The voice of Captain Drumm 
sounded queerly hollow. “Of course.” 

Cartwright glimpsed the sharpened 
V of the little astronomer’s brows, his 
expression of satanic amusement. 
Suddenly Cartwright shuddered. He 
couldn’t help feeling that something 
was very much wrong. 

“Well, darling, see you afterwards,” 
said Captain Drumm. He added, too 
hastily, “Both of you, of course.” 

Grinning sardonically, Worth lifted 
his thin hand in a little parting ges- 
ture. 

“This way,” said Pat Wayland. 
“The vaults are the first thing you 
must see, and they are nine thousand 
feet below.” 

NEASILY, Cartwright followed 
her into the small cage of an 
automatic elevator. It dropped, free. 
Cartwright clutched a hand rail to 
keep from bumping his head on the 
ceiling. 

“See here,” he demanded again, 
“why can’t you just tell me about all 
this?” 

“You’ll understand,” she promised 
him blandly. The innocent sweetness 
of her smile seemed a little over done. 
“When I tell you that we are going 
to live here, in the citadel, until the 
Holocaust comes — ” 

He stared at her. 

“Ourselves? Live two hundred 
years?” 

Her blond head nodded. 



“We discovered, on the first trips 
here, that the lesser gravitation causes 
subtle psychological changes. There 
is a slowing in the rate of metabolism. 
Not at first pronounced, but I have 
discovered a gas that increases the 
effect. A rather complex organic 
compound. We call it the sleep gas.” 
The elevator stopped. Tense with 
a growing alarm, Cartwright followed 
the girl out into a narrow hall. The 
walls of it were gray concrete. Their 
massiveness made him feel the weight 
of the lunar mountain above. 

Set close together in the wall were 
a row of heavy doors. They were 
green-painted steel, set with bright 
chromium knobs and dials. They 
looked like the doors of bank vaults. 
Each of them, Cartwright saw, was 
painted with the name of one of his 
associates, Galt, Drumm, Wayland — 
He stared, in a cold apprehension, 
at his own name. 

The girl stooped, spun the dials. 
Cartwright was frightened. He 
wanted to run back into the elevator, 
and leave her here. But he tried to 
put aside the fear: After all, he ad- 
mired Galt and Worth and Drumm. 
He had trusted them. And he loved 
Pat Wayland. 

“These doors seal,” the girl was 
saying. “There are clocks, and auto- 
matic valves to control the flow of 
sleep gas and breathing mixture. We 
will be able to survive in these vaults 
— with intervals outside — until the 
year of the Holocaust.” 

Cartwright repressed another shud- 
der. 

“But still — I don’t see what this 
has got to do with the Plan.” 

Smiling innocently, the girl opened 
the massive door. 

“I’ll explain everything, as we go 
along. Now, have a look at the room 
where you are going to spend the most 
of the next two centuries.” 

Cartwright followed her unwill- 
ingly into the narrow, gray-walled 
cell Alertly keeping between her and 
the door, he quickly surveyed it — and 
shuddered. 

It was very much like a prison cell. 
There was a bunk, a chair, a little 
table. On the table were a wash basin 







THE FORTRESS OF UTOPIA 



39 



and several sealed bottles of water and 
some cans of food. At the foot of the 
bunk was a ventilation grille in the 
wall, with a fan behind it. 

Pat Way land’s light hand touched 
his arm. 

“Cozy, eh?” Her voice had a silver 
trill. “Everything you need.” 

His arm stung, under her hand. He 
saw the bright needle in her fingers, 
and felt a swift-spreading numbness. 
A frantic desperation moved him to- 
ward the door. But that racing numb- 
ness seized his limbs, and he toppled. 

P AT WAYLAND caught him, 
pushed him across the bunk. He 
tried to fight, to stand. But he 
couldn’t move any more. He saw her 
dimly, standing at his feet, smiling 
down sweetly. The little needle glit- 
tered, as she waved at him. 

A far thin whisper, he heard her 
voice: 

“Sweet dreams, Jay!” 

The strange paralysis that held him 
was a wall of pure horror. She was 
going to leave him here. She was 
going to put him to sleep, with that 
gas. He was going to be buried alive, 
under that mountain on the Moon. 

But why? His dead lips strove in 
vain to ask that question. Why hadn’t 
the Utopia Corporation played fair 
with him? 

How long? He struggled des- 
perately to speak. Must he lie buried 
here for months and years? Perhaps 
even for centuries, until the Holocaust 
had come? 

No sound came. He couldn’t move. 
And suddenly he saw that the girl 
was gone. 

Dully to his ears there came a hol- 
low, thunderous clang. It was the 
great door, closing. The light above 
his head went out. He lay in utter 
darkness, utter silence — in the dead 
heart of a dead world. 

Then there was a faint whispering. 
J f}e knew it was the gas. It had a 
queer, pungent sweetness. Somehow, 
it was soothing, relaxing. It smoothed 
away his terror. His drumming pulse 
slowed. It was a long time before he 
needed to breathe again. 

He slept. 



CHAPTER VII 
The Ray of Oblivion 



I N HIS drowsiness, Jay Cartwright 
felt an odd reluctance to awaken. 
He wanted to sleep on — on — 

But a fan was whfrring. It blew 
fresh cold air against his face. And 
someone was beside him, calling him 
to get up. 

The calling voice seemed dimly fa- 
miliar. He tried to forget it, to relax 
again into pleasant oblivion. But it 
insisted. And suddenly he knew it. 
It was the voice of Lyman Galt. 

Galt! The name set up a clangor of 
alarm in him. Abruptly he remem- 
bered the vault under the Moon. He 
recalled how lovely Pat Wayland had 
lured him into it, paralyzed him, 
closed the great door. 

Panic broke the web of sleep. The 
aromatic gas, he realized, was gone. 
He made a convulsive effort to break 
that numbing paralysis, and found 
that it had left him. 

Sitting up on the bunk, he rubbed at 
his sticky eyes. His garments had 
been changed, for a loose white robe. 
He explored his itching chin, and 
found a short stubble. 

“Well, Jay. How are you?” 

He peered about the narrow, gray- 
walled cell. His eyes cleared, and he 
found Lyman Galt. His face looked 
thinner, hollowed, bleached a little, as 
if he had been ill. 

“I’m all right — I guess I am,” Cart- 
wright muttered. “But I don’t like 
this, Galt. Pat tricked me in here, and 
put me to sleep. This beard” — alarm 
cracked his voice — “how long have I 
been here, Galt?” 

“Five months, nearly,” Galt told 
him. “That was April, and this is 
August.” 

“Five months !” Cartwright blinked 
and stared. “Why did you do this to 
me, Galt?” His voice was bitter. “I 
trusted Pat — trusted you all.” 

Galt shook his dark head, regret- 
fully. 

“I was just afraid you wouldn’t un- 
derstand, Jay,” he said. “This was the 



40 



STARTLING STORIES 



simplest way to take care of your ob- 
jections. Besides, Pat wanted a human 
guinea pig, for a final test of her sleep 
gas — and it seems to have worked 
splendidly.” 

Anger shook Cartwright. 

“Do you think it was fair to me? — 
to keep me in the dark, trick me? Re- 
member, I paid the bills for half your 
mysterious Plan.” 

“For all of it, Jay,” Galt told him. 
“You remember, there was a power of 
attorney. We sold the last of your 
securities, a month ago.” 

“What?” Cartwright swayed up- 
right, trembling. “So it was robbery, 
after all? Just a clever plot — ” He 
bit his quivering lip. “I put my faith 
in you, Galt. I liked you and Drumm 
and Worth — loved Pat. And you all 
conspired to rob me.” 

“Wait, Jay.” Galt caught his arm. 
“Don’t judge us, yet.” He hesitated. 
“You see, we have done something else 
— something that will be harder for 
you to accept than anything you 
know.” 

“And what is that?” 

“Fly me to Earth, in the Pioneer ” 
Galt told him. “And you will see.” 

T HE automatic elevator whisked 
them upward, to a curving corri- 
dor in the upper level of the citadel. 
A silence, complete, dead, pressed 
crushingly \upon them. Cartwright 
spoke of it uneasily, and Galt said : 
“The citadel is finished. All our 
workmen have been carried back to 
Earth. The working of the Plan has 
begun.” 

They came into a wide, white-tiled 
kitchen. Small heavy round windows 
looked out into the lunar night. The 
pitted convex floor of Arzachel, a mile 
beneath, was gray in the pale Earth- 
shine. Vague and mighty, the distant 
rampart of the crater wall loomed 
against the sharp-etched splendor of 
the stars. 

Pat Wayland and Captain Drumm 
were sitting at a little table, over toast 
and coffee. The blond girl looked up 
at Cartwright, and her blue eyes 
smiled serenely. 

“Hello, Jay,” she said sweetly. 
“Sleep well?” 



Cartwright gulped angrily for his 
voice. 

“Watch your step, darling.” Drumm 
leaned back, and laughed at the girl. 
“Jay might wake up first, sometime.” 

Galt had opened the door of a huge 
refrigerator. 

“Hungry, Jay? It’s five months, re- 
member, since you ate. Even with 
damped metabolism, you have a right 
to an appetite. What will it be?” 

He began breaking eggs into a siz- 
zling pan, and Cartwright forgot his 
anger in a sudden awareness of gnaw- 
ing hunger. Looking at a big clock 
on the wall, Pat rose — it was an odd 
clock, Cartwright noticed, with extra 
hands for months, years, and cen- 
turies. 

“I must get back to the tau-ray,” she 
said. “Mart offered to watch the pro- 
jector while I ate. It has been on 
eight hours. Moving, just now, across 
Europe and Africa. We’ll let it run 
twenty-five hours, just to make sure.” 

“Pat—” 

There was an odd note of urgent ap- 
peal in Galt’s deep voice. He moved 
to follow the girl. 

“Pat — Jay and I are going down on 
the Pioneer for a little inspection tour. 
I want to show him how the Plan is 
working.” 

“The same old song.” Her laugh 
was a silver mockery. “Won’t young 
Cartwright be surprised?” 

“Pat,” Galt said huskily. “Please!” 

Suddenly her voice was grave. 

“Remember — don’t leave the ship. 
Aboard, you’ll be safe enough. The 
lead-glass filters on the ports will ab- 
sorb the tau-ray. But don’t leave the 
ship.” 

“Of course.” There was a little 
choked break in Galt’s voice. “And 
Pat— Pat— ” 

The girl came back toward him. Her 
blue eyes were wide, wondering. 

“What is it, Lyman?” 

Galt stared at her for a moment. His 
dark lip trembled. Suddenly he 
gulped a deep breath, and made a little 
shrugging gesture. 

“Nothing, Pat. Nothing. I’m sorry. 
Good-by.” 

“So long. Chief.” The round per- 
fection of her arm made a careless 



THE FORTRESS OF UTOPIA 



41 




Captain Drumm’s paralysis gun toppled four 
more men (Chapter IX) 



little gesture. “You’ve just time to 
see the ray strike America. Just re- 
member — stay aboard the ship.” 

Devouring scrambled eggs and 
bacon, buttered toast and jam, a huge 
bowl of cereal drowned in canned 
milk, Cartwright suddenly observed 
that Galt had not touched his own 
plate. His hollow eyes haunted the 
door where Pat had gone out. 



ffg^OOD-BY,” Cartwright heard 
him whisper faintly, “dear 

Pat.” 

An abrupt sense of alarm ended 
Cartwright’s appetite. 

“I’m ready,” he said. “Let’s go.” 

As they passed another small round 
port, Cartwright glimpsed a queer 
machine on the curving terrace out- 
side. Thick cables writhed to the end 
of a great cylinder that glowed with a 
peculiar, penetrating violet. 

That ominous shining tube was 
pointed like a telescope — or a weapon 
— at the huge brilliant half-risk of the 
Earth. Pat Wayland, hardly recog- 
nizable in her heavy white armor, was 
peering through a guide telescope be- 
side it. 

“The tau-ray projector,” said Galt. 
“What — ” Alarm choked Cart- 
wright’s voice to a whisper. “What is 
it doing to the Earth?” 

“We shall see,” Galt told him 
solemnly, “when we arrive.” 

Through the three hours of the 



42 



STARTLING STORIES 



Earthward flight, Galt seemed grave 
and troubled. He strode up and down 
the tiny deck, sometimes peered ab- 
sently out at the star-dusted splendor 
of space, once sat down at the little 
desk and scrawled out a brief note. 

The waxing Moon slipped down be- 
hind the curve of the planet, as they 
dropped into the upper atmosphere. 
The dim green vastness of North 
America spread westward. At last 
Galt stirred himself, to speak: 

“Land in Times Square, Jay. We’ll 
wait there till the Moon rises — that 
will be almost exactly noon — and 
watch it happen.” 

Cartwright fought a little shudder 
of numbing unease. 

“In Times Square?” He remem- 
bered all the night flights of the 
Pioneer, when he had raced to keep 
the little geoflexor under cover of 
darkness. “At noon?” 

Galt shrugged, his manner oddly 
solemn. 

“I don’t suppose that many people 
will notice us at all,” he said. “It 
doesn’t matter if they do — for they’ll 
soon forget.” 

His hands trembling a little on the 
controls, Cartwright brought the little 
silver ship down toward the long 
island of Manhattan. Below the green 
rectangle of Central Park, he followed 
the long diagonal slash of Broadway. 

“Eh!” he muttered. “Something’s 
wrong !” 

He looked anxiously at Galt. The 
big man, peering out with hollow eyes, 
seemed to see nothing at all. But the 
streets were jammed. Traffic was 
snarled in knots at every intersection. 
The sidewalks had overflowed with 
frantic pedestrians. Times Square was 
a sea of tight-packed humanity. 

Cartwright brought the Pioneer 
down gently, beside the old Times 
Building. The crowd surged away to 
make room for it to land, then the 
pressure of the throng crushed men 
and women back against it. 

“They’re all frightened,” whispered 
Cartwright. “Horrified! What can 
be wrong?” 

Galt’s hollow eyes stared fixedly, 
unseeingly, out. 

“Wait,” he said dully. “It’s only a 



few minutes until the rising of the 
Moon. Then you will see.” 

Cartwright started back toward the 
entrance valve. 

“I’m going out, and ask them.” 

W ITH a sudden, frantic move- 
ment, Galt seized his arm. 
“Don’t do that,” he said urgently. 
“You heard Pat’s warning. The Pio- 
neer is armored against the ray. 
We’re safe, aboard. But you must not 
leave the ship.” 

“My God — why don’t you tell me?” 
Galt shook his haggard head, and 
Cartwright turned to look out again. 
A newsboy came into his view. He 
tried to read the screaming headline 
on the paper the boy held up. But it 
w*as snatched away. The boy’s whole 
bundle was seized, torn from hand to 
hand. A tall man backed against the 
Pioneer to guard his prize. Cart- 
wright leaned anxiously against the 
port to read: 

SILENCE SPREADS ACROSS 
ATLANTIC MAY REACH 
HERE AT NOON 

That mysterious belt of silence, which last 
night suddenly cut off all communications 
with the Far East, is steadily advancing 
westward. The last cable from London was 
dispatched at seven o’clock this morning 
(noon, London time). Reports from Atlantic 
shipping have since been ceasing, as the belt 
moves westward with nearly the speed of 
the Earth’s rotation. 

Science has yet offered no satisfactory ex- 
planation of this disturbing phenomenon. It 
is hoped that the inexplicable failure of com- 
munications does not mean loss of life. None 
of the interrupted messages seems to hold 
any clue whatever. Meteorologists doubt 
that the cause could be an electrical storm, 
for radio and telegraph facilities in the 
Western Hemisphere have not been affected. 
War Department officials refuse to comment 
upon conjectures of a new military device. 

As the noon hour aproaches America, 
panic is mounting in metropolitan districts. 
Municipal and Washington officials, how- 
ever are broadcasting reassuring statements. 
Other than the silence, no cause of alarm has 
been observed — 

A weeping woman snatched the 
paper away, peered at it with an ex- 
pression of desperate hope. She 
flung it from her, and picked up a 
small bewildered child in her arms. 
She clung to the child. And her wet 



THE FORTRESS OF UTOPIA 



43 



eyes lifted toward a great clock, that 
was part of a sign. 

A silence had stilled all the uneasy 
murmur of the crowd. It was a ter- 
rible, breathless, frightened silence. 
A hundred arms were pointing at the 
clock. Thousands of tense white 
faces stared at the hands of it, closing 
together like the blades of a mighty 
pair of shears. 

Dimly, far back in his bewildered 
mind, Cartwright tried to remember 
something about another pair of 
shears, with which somebody had 
snipped the life-threads of mortals, 
when their fated hour had come. 

The hands were together. 

Nothing happened. For a long, 
dragging minute, nothing happened. 
People began to look again at one 
another, smiling hopefully. It was 
nothing, after all. A wave of cheering 
rolled down Broadway. 

The great hands drew apart, and it 
happened. 

A BRUPTLY, as if life had been 
mysteriously withdrawn from 
them, the cheering thousands toppled. 
They fell like grain that is cut by the 
sickle. There was no sound. There 
was nothing in the sky. No visible 
agency touched them. But, as far 
down the streets as Cartwright could 
see, they toppled into endless heaps 
and windrows. 

Reeling with a cold numbing sick- 
ness of horror, Cartwright put his 
hand to his eyes. He stumbled away 
from the port. He stared quivering 
at Galt, who was still looking out un- 
seeingly. 

“So this is what your tau-ray has 
done?” he said hoarsely. “You have 
used it to murder the world!” 



CHAPTER VIII 
Forgetfulness 



UT Galt shook his head. 

“They aren’t dead.” His trem- 
bling fingers touched Cartwright’s 
shoulder, and he pointed through a 
port. “See. They are living, moving. 



They are only . . . forgetful.” 

Cartwright pressed his face against 
the small round port, staring. He was 
held in a shuddering fascination. For, 
as far as he could see, up and down 
Broadway and Seventh Avenue and 
43rd Street, the fallen multitudes were 
moving. 

Their motion was dreadful to see. 

Swaying with a sickness of revul- 
sion, gripping the brass rail with 
clammy hands, Cartwright watched 
those nearest him, on the pavements of 
Times Square. 

They rolled. Their eyes stared, un- 
focused, blank with an utter stupidity. 
They made mouthing, hideous grim- 
aces. They kicked out their arms and 
legs, with aimless sprawling gestures. 

Sometimes one of them made a 
clumsy effort to pull himself upright. 
But always he lost his balance, and 
sprawled again across his neighbors. 

A terrible silence had fallen, as they 
toppled. They had lain at first in such 
a stillness that Cartwright had 
thought them dead. But no sound 
came from them again. 

It was a mumbling, inarticulate 
babble. Here and there a thinner 
sound cut above it — the sound of wail- 
ing. For men and women were scream- 
ing like frightened infants. 

Cartwright looked mutely again to 
Galt. His stomach felt very sick. He 
tried to fight down the cold nausea of 
horror rising in him. 

“You see,” Galt said, “they have 
forgotten.” 

Stupidly, Cartwright parroted: 

“Forgotten?” 

Galt nodded again, and regret was 
solemn in his eyes. 

“They have forgotten everything 
they ever learned. They have forgot- 
ten how to walk, and how to talk. 
They have forgotten all the strate- 
gems and devices that they had 
learned in the Old World.” 

A strange elation lit Galt’s face. 

“All the mental scars, that they got 
in the jungle of the Old World, are 
healed now. They are young again. 
They are infants. Only the primary 
reflexes, with which they were born, 
survive.” 

“I see.” Cartwright nodded, sickly. 




44 



STARTLING STORIES 



“The ray destroyed their minds.” 
“Not their minds — merely their 
memories. They can learn again. Far 
more swiftly, in fact, than they 
learned as actual infants. Because 
learning will not have to wait upon 
muscular and neural development.” 
“And you did it with the ray?” 
“With Pat’s tau-ray,” Galt told him. 
“It is a penetrating actinic radiation, 
whose effective frequencies are care- 
fully synchronized to disrupt certain 
proteid molecules in the nerve tissue. 
One product of the break-down, 
formed in minute quantities, is a sub- 
vital, self-propagating virus. 

“The ray is quite invisible. But a 
flash of it, against the retinal cones, or 
even against the nerve-endings in the 
skin, is enough. Within a few sec- 
onds, the virus has pervaded the en- 
tire nervous system. 

“The effect is only a slight, tempo- 
rary change in the myelin nerve- 
sheath. Slight, chemically speaking. 
But its effect, at the synaptic junction 
of the fibers, is to destroy all learned 
associations. The memory of the indi- 
vidual is blotted out.” 

T HE interior of the little Pioneer 
seemed to spin around Cartwright. 
He grasped the handrail, and tried to 
believe that all this was an insane, im- 
possible dream. But he still saw the 
stricken thousands outside, wallowing 
in a dreadful dumb helplessness upon 
the pavements of Times Square. 

“You have done this to — every- 
body?” he whispered. “Everywhere?” 
“That was necessary.” Galt’s great 
shaggy head nodded solemnly. “None 
must escape, save our chosen ones in 
the citadel. That is vital to the 
Plan.” 

An iron determination, in his deep 
weary voice, rang terrible to Cart- 
wright. 

“For not one trace of the Old 
World’s corruption must be left, to 
poison our new Utopia!” 

Cartwright gulped twice, before he 
could speak. 

“But this is murder, Galt!” His 
tight voice quivered. “Don’t you see 
— everything will stop. Transporta- 
tion, manufacture, farming. Don’t you 



see what will happen ?” 

Galt’s dark face was bleak. 

“I suspected that you would feel 
this way about it, Jay,” he said. “That 
is why I kept putting off any revela- 
tion of the Plan.” 

“Well?” Cartwright gripped his 
arm. “Now that you’ve done this,!, 
just what is your magnificent Plan? 
You have reduced all the human race 
to gibbering helpless idiots.” He 
laughed bitterly. “What next?” 

“Gibbering, perhaps,” said Galt. 
“Helpless. But not idiots. They are 
infants. Children, who may grow up 
to build a more splendid world than 
the old one could ever have been. 

Cartwright shrugged impatiently. 

“A world of babies — what is to keep 
them all from perishing of hunger, 
before they even learn how to eat?” 
His voice rang hard. “Remember, 
Galt, our own civilization has been — 
had been a hundred thousand years in 
the making. And you have wiped it 
out.” 

“If the Old World had progressed 
no farther, in a hundred thousand 
years” Galt said softly, “don’t you 
think there must have been something 
wrong with it?” 

He straighted, until his dark head 
almost touched the dome of the 
Pioneer’s hull. 

“Listen, Jay — the reason for our 
plan is the coming Holocaust. Men 
have just a little more than two cen- 
turies, before the Earth plunges into 
the nebula. That is the end-sunless 
something can be done. 

“I don’t know how the Earth can be 
saved. I don’t know how any men can 
survive. Clearly, the only hope is in 
some splendid spurt of scientific • 
progress. I can’t guess what the solu- 
tion would be, but I believe that a 
great enough science could find a way 
to save the Earth. 

“The Old World, as things were go- 
ing, was obviously doomed to fail. It 
was economically sick. Wars were | 
sapping its strength. It had no 
morale — and no care for the future. 
The final discovery of the nebula 
meant only another scare-head in the 
newspapers. That is why we planned 
a new beginning.” 



THE FORTRESS OF UTOPIA 



45 



^ k sa i<3 Cartwright, 
ww “Men don’t know enough to 
save themselves — so you make them 
forget the little they know. Now 
what do they do?” 

“They build Utopia.” 

A solemn strength moved Galt. 

“You have seen only the Plan’s first 
step. The tau-ray leveled the old 
ramshackle building. Now we will 
help them build Utopia, upon a new 
foundation.” 

“Help them?” Cartwright turned 
shuddering from another glance out- 
side. “If we could — but how?” 

“The minds of men are all swept 
clean,” Galt said. “But in our citadel 
on the Moon we have all the good and 
useful things the Old World had 
learned. We shall teach the Utopians 
what they should know, with the ideo- 
phore.” 

“The ideophore?” 

Staring, Cartwright felt a tremor of 
hope. 

“Pat has designed a portable unit,” 
Galt told him. “We have made up a 
series of records for it, on steel rib- 
bons, that contain the fundamentals 
that men must be taught. The founda- 
tions of Utopia. 

“We must return, when the ideo- 
phore has done its work. We shall 
select individuals, here and there, all 
over the Earth, and educate them with 
the ideophore to be the leaders of the 
race. The guides toward Utopia. 

“When the seeds of Utopia have 
been planted, we shall return to the 
citadel on the Moon. We shall sleep 
in the vaults there, for a generation. 
And then we shall come back to see 
the progress of our plant. 

“And so, every generation, we shall 
visit the Earth — until the Holocaust 
comes. Perhaps to aid the new 
science of Utopia with some forgotten 
fact. Perhaps to spur men on with 
some new reminder of the doom to 
come.” 

“So we are to be gods?” Cart- 
wright laughed again, bitterly. 
“Eternal beings, dwelling apart in our 
scientific fastness on the Moon? Con- 
descending to walk, now and then, 
among the poor struggling mortals be- 
low?” 



“Who will soon,” Galt said, “be- 
come greater and wiser than we ever 
were — if the Plan succeeds. But don’t 
say that we are gods, Jay.” He shook 
his head. “Say, rather, that we are 
surgeons.” 

He nodded, deliberately. 

“Surgeons — that’s it. We have diag- 
nosed the sickness of mankind. We 
saw that death was the prognosis. The 
thing that we are performing is a dan- 
gerous and painful but necessary op- 
eration. It offers the sole hope of sur- 
vival.” 

He gripped Cartwright’s arm. 

“Now, Jay,” he said anxiously, “do 
you see? I hope you understand — be- 
cause a great deal depends on you, 
Jay.” 

Cartwright shook his yellow head. 

“I see what you’re trying to do,” he 
said. “I think you were mad, to try 
it. Now there can be no turning back 
— but it still looks to me like burning 
down the house to kill the rats.” 

“No.” Galt smiled, wearily. “But to 
build a temple in its place.” He took 
Cartwright’s hand, in a crushing grip. 
“Let me congratulate you. Jay. For 
you are to be the master builder.” 

“What?” 

Cartwright stared at him, puzzled. 
He saw the redness of Galt’s hollow 
eyes, the fatigue-etched lines in his 
face, the weary droop of his great 
shoulders. 

1 AY,” Galt’s tired voice rumbled 
softly, “I’ve worked ten years 
to perfect the plan. Eighteen, some- 
times twenty hours a day. I’m tired. 
And — well — ” A shadow of pain 
crossed his dark face. “There’s a 
thing that I’ve got to forget. I’m go- 
ing to step into the background. Jay. 
And you are to take my place.” 

“Eh?” 

Cartwright was bewildered, voice- 
less. 

“I trust you, Jay.” Galt squeezed 
his hand again, released it. “Please 
forgive all the deceptions to which I 
was forced. And now — are we ready 
to take off for the Moon?” 

“In half a minute.” Cartwright 
stared for a moment; something in 
Galt’s manner puzzled him. “I must 



46 



STARTLING STORIES 



inspect the geodes.” 

He lifted the narrow hatch cover, 
climbed down into the machine- 
crammed space beneath the deck. He 
was stooping over a big power tube 
when the clang of the air-lock reached 
him. With a mute, protesting cry of 
comprehension, he stumbled back 
above. 

Lyman Galt was already outside. 
Swaying wearily on the pavement, he 
looked back up through a port. His 
hollow face grinned, and he began a 
little tired gesture of farewell. 

But the grin faded from his face. 
All the bitterness and fatigue and 
pain, that had dwelt there so long, 
went with it. There was left only a 
pleased baby-smile. 

For a moment he stood there, smil- 
ing that smile of vacuous content- 
ment. Then he tottered. His legs 
buckled. He made a clumsy aimless 
gesture, and sprawled helpless among 
the others on the pavement. 

Jay Cartwright checked himself, at 
the valve. If he opened it, he too 
would fall. The Plan would fail. 
Galt, and all these sprawling millions, 
would perish miserably. The Plan 
was now the only hope. The Plan 
must go on. 

Fighting a cold sickness of bewil- 
derment and horror and despair, he 
started the booming geodes, and lifted 
the Pioneer back toward the fortress 
on the Moon. 



CHAPTER IX 
The Law of the Four 



T HE great tube of the tau-ray 
projector was still glowing with 
its painful violet, on the terrace of 
the white citadel. Captain Drumrn 
was standing beside it — instantly 
recognizable, because he had deco- 
rated his white pressure-suit with 
stripes of gold-and-crimson braid. He 
waved a bulky arm. 

Cartwright anchored the Pioneer 
against the entrance lock, opened the 
valves, and clambered wearily through 
into the fortress. He found Pat Way- 



land, waiting in the curving corridor. 

"Lyman,” she called anxiously past 
him. “How is the ray working? “Ly- 
man?” When no answer came, she 
turned anxiously to Cartwright. 
“Where is he. Jay?” Her voice quiv- 
ered. “Has anything — ” 

She bit her full red lip. Her blue 
eyes turned dark. The smooth per- 
fection of her face went pale. She 
shook her gleaming platinum head, 
with an abrupt frantic denial. 

“He couldn’t — 

She confronted Cartwright, whis- 
pering: 

“Speak, Jay. Tell me.” 

Dully, Cartwright shook his yellow 
head. 

“You know, Pat,” he said softly, 
“sometimes you’re human. Mostly, 
you’re just an adding machine, with 
a dash of paint and one of poison. But 
sometimes you really act like a human 
being.” 

Frantically, her tense fingers dug 
into his arm. 

“Tell me — what has happened to 
Lyman?” 

“He loved you, Pat — you know how 
it was.” His voice was harsh, almost 
brutal. “And he got tired of loving 
you. I know exactly how he felt, be- 
cause I fell for you myself. Well, he 
doesn’t love you any more.” 

His laugh was a sharp, bitter sound. 
“Because he has forgotten,” he said. 
A white hand flew up to her throat. 
“You mean — he — ” 

She went voiceless, and Cartwright 
nodded grimly. 

“Lyman walked out of the Pioneer, 
into your wonderful tau-ray. Now he 
is like the rest of them. He is a wal- 
lowing babbling idiot, who cannot 
stand or speak or feed himself. And 
he doesn’t love you any more.” 

Tears glittered suddenly in her 
huge blue eyes. 

“Don’t say that, Jay!” Agony was 
keen in her voice. “Don’t be cruel — ” 
“Cruel?” His voice rasped at her. 
“Who has been cruel? Galt can’t tell 
you now. But I can, Pat. Mart Worth 
can. Captain Drumm can.” 

She pressed both hands hard against 
her quivering white face. 

“Jay, you don’t understand.” Her 



THE FORTRESS OF UTOPIA 



47 



voice was muffled, shaking. “You don’t 
know what has happened to me, to 
make me what I am.” 

“I know what you did to Galt.” 

“Please, Jay — please.” A sob. “I 
liked Lyman, tremendously. As I do 
Mart and Cap and you. But love is 
a book that I have closed, forever. It 
only hurts me, when you speak of it. 
So — please !” 

Suddenly gentle, Cartwright touch- 
ed her shining hair. 

“I’m sorry, Pat,” he whispered. 
“Forgive me.” 

“Of course. Jay. And don’t think 
that I’m not sorry.” Her pale face 
was stiff and bleak with pain. “But 
I just can’t help it.” 

C ARTWRIGHT jerked his yellow 
head. 

“Anyhow, we’ve got a job to do — 
if we are going to do anything for 
Lyman and all those millions, back on 
the Earth.” 

Slowly, the girl nodded her plat- 
inum head. 

“Yes, we must go on,” she whis- 
pered. “For his sake, now. Come on 
in the kitchen. I’ll phone Mart and 
Cap to come, and fix them a bite to 
eat. The ray has only a few hours 
more to run.” 

In the wide white kitchen, whose 
round windows looked out over the 








of the rearing horse (Chapter X) 



48 



STARTLING STORIES 



convex crater floor and the ringing 
mountain wall that loomed tremen- 
dous in the pale Earthshine, Cart- 

Wright told the others what had hap- 

pened in Times Square. 

Little Worth’s black brows raised to 
make a sharp V. His thin pale face 
was twisted with a bitterly sardonic 
amus%merftt 

lowed Pat Wayland, mockingly. 

“Yes, Lyman was tired,’’ he said 
softly. “He wanted to forget.” 

For a moment Cartwright thought 
that the girl was going to burst into 
tears. Then her platinum head tossed 
abruptly. The old dazzling smile lit 
her round doll-face. 

“Isn’t it so?” Her cooing voice was 
honey-sweet. “We, all of us, have so 
much to forget.” 

Then the two men turned to Cart- 
wright. 

“Lyman had told us, Jay,” said Cap- 
tain Drumm, “that if anything hap- 
pened to him, he wanted you to take 
his place as leader of the Four.” 
Cartwright’s yellow head bowed. 

“He asked me to,” he said slowly. 

“I don’t know why. Each one of you 
knows ten times more than I do, about 
how the Plan is to work.” 

Soberly, for once without his satanic 
smile, Martin Worth said: 

“I know. Jay. We have a new world 
to build. To do that, we need a man 
like Galt was — and like you are. A 
leader, with the common touch. All 
the rest of us are specialists, with the 
usual bias of experts. 

“I would probably make a world of 
astronomers, sitting about and pre- 
dicting cosmic cataclysms. Pat would 
make them psychologists, busy pick- 
ing one another’s repressed egos to 
shreds. Drumm would turn them into 
a legion of rainbow-uniformed adven- 
turers. We need you. Jay — a man like 
you — to lead us all toward the goal 
that Lyman mapped out.” 

Pat nodded agreement, and Drumm 
took Cartwright’s hand. 

“I’ll do my best,” Cartwright 
promised. “And now shall we load 
the Pioneer with the equipment we 
are going to need, and get ready to 
tackle our job?” 

Another day was breaking over 



New York when the little geoflexor 
dropped back into Times* Square 
again. Pat Wayland and Worth and 
Drumm were busy about the portable 
ideophore, which had four helmets at- [ 
tached by flexible cables to its com- 
pact case. 

“We’ll find Galt, first,” Cartwright 
dJilAtlien? “R?^h^ris.th.e_ediicator will 
give him wits enough, at least, to save 
his life.” 

“It would be fitting,” the girl agreed 
softly, “if we can make him one of 
the leaders who will guide mankind 
toward the Utopia that he planned.” 
The little ship touched the pave- 
ment. 

HIS is where I left him.” \ 
Cartwright was peering anxi- | 
ously out, and a sudden apprehension 
choked him. “But he — he’s gone!” 

He had left the stricken multitude 
sprawling, helpless as new-born in- 
fants. But now the most of them had 
already learned to move about — some- 
how. Dim figures were crawling and 
swaying unsteadily through the gray 
dawn. 

“I thought they couldn’t move,” 
whispered Cartwright. “I left him — 
lying — ” 

“They will all learn very rapidly,” I 
Pat Wayland said. “There is no im- 
pairment of nerves or muscles. All 
they need is a re-establishment of the 
neural patterns. The Plan depends 
on that.” 

White-faced, she peered out. 

“He must have wandered away.” 

“We must find him,” whispered 
Cartwright. “Help him. This is — 
horrible.” 

He stared at the unsteady figures 
moving in the increasing light. Some 
of them had already learned to eat. In 
front of a wrecked refreshment stand, 
he saw a little snarling group strug- 
gling clumsily over raw frankfurters 
and bits of bread. 

He saw a man-thing in police blue 
snatch a gold watch, and bite it, and 
throw it disgustedly away. He 
watched a sailor stumble after a red- 
haired girl, and catch her, and kiss her 
clumsily. 

“The basic reflexes,” Martin Worth 




THE FORTRESS OF UTOPIA 



49 



said softly, “survive.” 

“Lyman — ” Pat Wayland was whis- 
pering. “We must find him.” 

But Cartwright was shaking his 
head. 

“We mustn’t take the time,” he said 
reluctantly. “We’ve got to work 
quickly — if we’re to keep these people 
from dying of starvation and a thou- 
sand clumsy accidents. No, we can 
help Galt best by simply going ahead 
with the Plan.” 

He opened the valves, and helped 
carry the portable ideophore out upon 
the pavement. 

“Just what is on the reels?” he asked 
Pat. He was trying to keep his mind 
off the strange fate of Galt. “What 
will the machine teach them?” 

“Lyman spent years selecting the 
material,” she told him. “There is a 
modified, simplified English. An un- 
derstanding of all the sciences, as 
complete as we could make it. The 
principles of art, music, morality, re- 
ligion, law — of everything good that 
the Old World knew. 

“Nor is that all. For there is a 
danger, you see, that Utopia will be 
corrupted by the remains of the Old 
World, that lie all about. And there 
is another danger, that the Utopians 
will go off on a tangent, and forget 
their great task of saving the Earth 
from the Holocaust. 

“To meet those two dangers, the 
ideophore will impart feeling of re- 
spect and obedience for a special Law. 
They will revere us, as the Four. 
They will know us as human beings, 
like themselves — but human beings of 
mysterious power and authority, who 
must be obeyed. That will enable us 
to keep them to their great task, and 
to preserve them from contamination 
by the things of the Old World. 

“It will be forbidden to enter any 
of the buildings of the Old World, or 
to use any of the old machines, or read 
any of the old books — except of course 
that we shall have to make certain 
temporary exceptions, at first, to as- 
sure them food and shelter and the 
means to make the new beginning.” 

A TALL man in the splendid garb 
of a hotel doorman escaped the 



sprawling babbling mob about the 
wrecked lunch stand. He came stum- 
bling up the street, carrying his prize. 
This proved to be a coconut. He tried 
it with his teeth, and then stopped and 
battered it against the curb. 

“He will do,” said Pat Wayland. 
“He is intelligent and strong.” 

Captain Drumm raised a shining 
little pistol. Cartwright snatched at 
his elbow. 

“What’s this?” 

Drumm displayed the small weapon. 
“Paralysis,” he said. “It shoots a 
tiny steel needle, tipped with a chem- 
ical of Pat’s. Effective up to forty 
yards. It temporarily paralyzes the 
motor nerves, without destroying con- 
sciousness or have any permanent 
effect. One shot lasts from five min- 
utes to half an hour.” 

“Oh !” Cartwright looked suddenly 
at Pat Wayland. “Down in the vault, 
when you put me to sleep, was that — ” 
The girl nodded as Drumm fired the 
tiny gun. It made a sharp little ping , 
and the victim dropped over his coco- 
nut. They wheeled the portable 
ideophore to him, propped up his limp 
head, and fitted a light helmet over it. 

Pat started the humming converter, 
adjusted dials. 

“The paralysis of the motor nerves,” 
she commented, “prevents the usual 
spasmodic reflexes.” She moved a 
lever. “Thirty seconds — that’s all. 
You may remove the helmet.” 

They stood watching. In a few 
minutes the man stood up, and deftly 
straightened his uniform. His face 
bore a friendly and intelligent smile. 

“I thank you, Four,” he said simply, 
“for selecting me to be a leader of the 
Utopians. I will obey your Law, and 
labor to build Utopia, so that the men 
to come may save Earth from the 
Holocaust. Now I must help my com- 
rades to find food and shelter.” 

Leaving them, he picked up the 
coconut that had baffled him before, 
and broke it on the sidewalk, and gave 
the fragments to a weeping woman 
who had not yet learned to stand. 
Ping, ping, ping, ping! 

With four swift shots, Drumm’s 
paralysis gun toppled four men in a 
group. Pushing the wheeled cabinet, 



50 



STARTLING STORIES 



carrying the four helmets, the others 
moved toward them with the ideo- 
phore. 



CHAPTER X 
The Renegade 



I N A THOUSAND cities and ham- 
lets, on every inhabited continent, 
the same procedure was repeated. The 
Pioneer settled amid the clumsy, 
speechless victims of the tau-ray. 
Captain Drumm, with the paralysis 
gun, dropped half a dozen or half a 
hundred men and women. From the 
magic of the ideophore they rose 
again, to be the leaders of the Utop- 
ians. 

Washington and Yokohama; Paris, 
Texas, and Paris, France; Berlin and 
Toledo, Ohio ; Moskva and Montevi- 
deo; Honolulu and Singapore; Nome 
and Petropavlovsk and Kansas City — 
and ten thousand more. 

The weeks and then the months 
went by. For the Earth was large. 
Even though they worked day and 
night, snatching odd bits of sleep one 
by one, it took a long time to cover all 
the planet. And they found unpleas- 
ant things. 

They found hunger, and blood, and 
death. 

In Tokio, the tau-ray must have left 
no memory of the art of quenching 
fire — not even of the danger of flame. 
Only black ruin was left when the 
Pioneer came. Four helpless millions 
perished in that unopposed conflagra- 
tion of flimsy tinder-houses. Nor was 
Tokio the only city that burned. 

In the crowded areas of Europe and 
Asia, the food at hand was soon ex- 
hausted. The speechless rabble, ob- 
livious of the intricate machine of 
commerce that once had fed them, 
poured out of the cities in a ravening 
horde. They stripped the countryside 
of everything edible. Starving men 
became hunters of men. 

Once, staring at a broad military 
road in Germany, that was scattered 
with white, tooth-marked bones, Jay 
Cartwright felt a cold overwhelming 



sickness at all the agony and death the 
tau-ray had brought. Leaning against 
one of the Pioneer’s small round ports, 
he shuddered. 

“To kill one man was murder,” he 
said faintly, “and you died for it. To 
rob one man was a crime, and you paid 
for it with years of your life. We 
have murdered perhaps half the popu- 
lation of the Earth. We have robbed 
the rest — even of all memory of what 
they have lost.” 

His voice rose, raggedly. 

“Then what are we? Thieves? Mur- 
derers? No! There is no word in the 
language that fits the thing that we 
have done.” 

The steady iron hand of Captain 
Drumm fell upon his shoulder. 

“It’s a terrible thing, I know,” 
Drumm said. “But life has always 
been terrible. The old must give way 
to the new. A thousand must perish, 
so that one may have life. So it has 
always been, since the first hungry cell 
devoured another. 

“Remember, our goal is the survival 

of the race. Mankind was following 
a road that led straight to doom. We 
are setting him upon a different path. 
It may be harder, in the beginning. 
Many must fall by the way. But, in 
the end, it must lead to life — to a life 
more splendid than was ever glimpsed 
before the Oblivion.” 

Cartwright was staring at the bones. 

“But so many,” he said, “have died.” 

ffO ERHA PS they have died,” 
M. Drumm said. “But the most of 
them were never alive. They were r.ot 
ends. They were only means. They 
were not individuals. They were cogs 
in a machine — that was already break- 
ing down.” 

Cartwright turned away from the 
port, and shook his yellow head. 

“Still there’s a lot that I don’t see,” 
he said. “Why must we drive men out 
of their cities? Why must they lie 
under the rain and the frost? When 
they need tools, why must they let 
good implements rust? When mil- 
lions are roving on foot, why must the 
railroads be abandoned?” 

“Because there must be a clean 
break with the past,” Drumm told him. 



THE FORTRESS OF UTOPIA 



51 



“Men had too many machines. In 
offices and subways and factories, 
their lives were geared to the ma- 
chines. Men made machines of them- 
selves. They had no time to live. 

“There will be machines in Utopia, 
of course. Ultimately, there will 
probably be more and mightier ma- 
chines than the Old World ever 
dreamed of. But they will be the serv- 
ants of men, and not the masters.” 
Again, doubtfully, Cartwright 
shook his head. 

A YEAR had gone, since the day 
of Oblivion, when the Pioneer 
dropped toward a new village upon a 
low hill in what had been New Jersey. 
It had been, a year ago, only a cluster 
of leaf-thatched huts. But a kiln was 
now smoking beside it, and a new cir- 
cular building, of brick and stone, was 
rising in its broad central square. 
Fields, below, were green with a late 
corn and turnips and beans. 

As Cartwright dropped the little 
geoflexor toward the dusty street, he 
looked across toward the lonely tow- 
ers of the abandoned metropolis, 
thirty miles eastward. Bitterly, he 
laughed. 

“And we made men give up that — 
for this!” 

“But,” asked Captain Drumm, as 
they emerged, “do they seem to 
mind?” 

Three children were shouting and 
laughing as they drove a herd of 
spotted cows out to pasture on the 
hillside. An anvil rang cheerfully in a 
smithy. Saws and hammers made a 
pleasant sound from the building. 
Song rose from a man plowing with 
two horses in the field below. 

A little group of men came, with a 
manner of friendly respect, to greet 
the Four. Their leader — who still 
wore the tattered splendor of a hotel 
doorman’s uniform — eagerly told of 
the progress that the town had made. 

“The harvest will give us food for 
all, and we are hauling wood for the 
winter. That is our new community 
building. It will house a laboratory 
and a school. Next year, we plan to 
open a pottery, a mill, and a small 
chemical works.” 



“Splendid,” said Captain Drumm. 
“Good,” said Cartwright. “And if 
you have need of more fuel and iron, 
remember that all railroad tracks 
lying outside of cities are exempt 
from the Law.” His eyes surveyed the 
busy village again, as he asked, ‘‘Are 
your people happy?” 

The leader smiled, and nodded. 
“We are happy,” he assured them. 
“Why should anyone be otherwise, in 
Utopia? We have made a place for 
everyone. Each has his own tasks to 
do, and his sure rewards. There were 
hard times at first, but now there is 
food and shelter for all. But there is 
one thing — ” 

T HE voice of the leader grew 
troubled. He paused, and made a 
little unhappy gesture eastward. The 
towers of the old city were lost in the 
misty distance. But Cartwright saw 
a blackened patch on another little 
hill. And he saw three bodies swing- 
ing from a rude gibbet, nearer. 

“What’s that?” Cartwright de- 
manded. “Has the Law been broken?” 
“The Law has been broken,” the 
leader told him grimly. “Those three 
hanging are renegades. They were 
captured in a fight, after their band 
had taken and burned the village on 
that hill. We hanged them, as the 
Law requires. But the most of the 
band escaped.” 

Cartwright stafed soberly at the 
distant gibbet. Renegades. All over 
Earth there were renegades. They 
were men who had escaped the ideo- 
phor, and defied the leadership of 
those the ideophore had taught. 

Savages. Some bands were yet 
speechless, though the most of them 
had learned a few words from the 
Utopians who had tried in vain to lead 
them. A few individuals among them 
must have had some dim memory of 
the Old Times, for they displayed a 
surprising aptitude for learning to use 
the forbidden machines and weapons, 
in the forbidden cities they haunted. 

“The band dwells in the old city, 
where the Law forbids us to follow 
them,” the leader was saying. “But 
they have a daring chief, who is called 
Silver Skull. He often leads them out 



52 



STARTLING STORIES 



in raids across our peaceful lands. 

“With the other nearby villages of 
Utopia, we keep watchmen upon the 
hills toward the river. When we have 
warning of a raid, we arm ourselves 
as best we can, and fight to save our 
homes. But Silver Skull is very cun- 
ning. He took our neighbor village 
in the night, by surprise.” 

Cartwright turned to his compan- 
ions, with a troubled frown. 

“I was afraid something of the sort 
would happen,” Captain Drumm said 
soberly. “I knew the job was pretty 
big, for us. Really, we needed a thou- 
sand Pioneers and a thousand ideo- 
phores, to sow the seed of Utopia, be- 
fore these weeds of a new barbarism 
had fouled the soil. 

“There’s danger, now, that these 
renegades will contaminate all Utopia, 
with their defiance of the Law. Cer- 
tainly, we can’t expect the Utopians 
to make much progress toward their 
big job of saving the Earth, with a lot 
of savages preying on them.” 

“Well.” Cartwright jerked his yel- 
low head, grimly. “We’ll give the 
Utopians some better weapons, so they 
can defend themselves.” 

“Lyman foresaw the possibility of 
something like this,” Pat Wayland 
told them. “He provided for it, in the 
Plan. We have a special ideophore 
reel, that will teach the Utopians how 
to make swords and guns, with a sug- 
gestion that they build electrified 
fences around the ruins of the old 
cities.” 

“Good,” Cartwright said decisively. 
“We’ll initiate some of our Utopians 
into the mysteries of weapons — 
hoping they never get started using 
them on one another.” 

“The Law,” Pat told him, “takes 
care of that.” 

The portable ideophore was set up, 
beside the silver egg of the Pioneer, 
when a ragged blood-stained man 
came staggering up the hill. He 
stumbled gasping to the leader of the 
village, who was still somewhat dazed 
from fifteen seconds of ideophore in- 
struction on the defense of Utopia. 

ILVER SKULL!” he panted. 
“It was Silver Skull — he came 



in the dark. I know it was Silver 
Skull. His head was white in the 
moonlight. He stabbed me.” 

“Where is he?” demanded the tall 
leader. 

“He has gone back with his men into 
the forbidden city, now. He carried 
Red-hair away, and left my friend 
Slim lying dead in the burning camp.” 
“Where was this?” asked Cart- 
wright. “And what happened?” 

The panting man stared at him with 
dull bewildered eyes. He was hug- 
ging one arm, and the sleeve was 
sodden with blood. 

“At our camp,” he said, “we were 
burning lime with ties from the rail- 
road. We were far from the forbidden 
cities, and we thought there was no 
danger. Last night, after the kiln was 
fired, we slept. 

“We were fools. For it was Silver 
Skull who woke us. He killed Slim, 
and took Red-hair, who was going to 
be Slim’s wife.” He was sobbing, 
gripping the red arm. “Slim was my 
friend.” 

“Come.” The leader beckoned to 
him. “We’ll care for your wound. 
Soon our fear of Silver Skull will be 
ended. For the Four have taught me 
to make weapons, and fences that the 
renegades cannot cross.” 

“But still,” whispered the wounded 
man, “my friend Slim is dead. And 
Silver Skull has taken his girl.” 

Jay Cartwright turned impatiently. 
“I think we had better do something 
about this fellow Silver Skull right 
now,” he said, “without waiting for 
guns to be manufactured. Or he may 
be turning out with guns of his own, 
out of some police armory.” 

Drumm’s blue eyes were shining 
eagerly. 

“I was just about to suggest it. Jay.” 
He turned to the tall leader. “Get 
your men together, and show us the 
trail of the Silker Skull. We’ll bring 
him back to hang for his defiance of 
the Law.” 

The leader gave quiet orders. Soon 
a hundred men were gathered, a dozen 
of them mounted. They were armed 
only with their simple tools, axes, 
hoes, pitch-forks, saws, ar.d sledges. 
The Pioneer floated above them, north 




54 



STARTLING STORIES 



to the burned camp where the mur- 
dered lime-burner lay dead, then east 
toward the abandoned cities along the 
Hudson. 

The men, Cartwright noticed, kept 
to the open roads and the fields, avoid- 
ing the ever more frequent buildings. 
At last, at the weed-grown outskirts 
of what had been Union City, they 
stopped. When the Pioneer was 
landed beside them, they refused to go 
any farther. 

“It is the Law,” their leader said. 
“We cannot enter the old cities.” 

“We’ll make a special exception,” 
Cartwright told him, “until Silver 
Skull is caught.” 

But it was not that simple. He had 
not realized the lasting power of the 
ideophore’s suggestions. The Law 
was the Law, it had to be obeyed. Not 
one man was willing to break it, even 
at the command of the Four them- 
selves. 

The leader was respectful but firm. 
The Four were the mysteriously 
gifted ruler-scientists of Utopia. It 
was the Law that in most matters they 
should be obeyed. But the Law said 
absolutely that the old cities must not 
be entered. 

Captain Drumm abruptly shrugged 
the gold-and-crimson splendor of his 
shoulders, and turned away from the 
frightened hundred. 

ET ’em wait,” he said. “And 

MJt we’ll go after Silver Skull by 
ourselves.” 

“We had better not try it,” Cart- 
wright said reluctantly. “The Pio- 
neer isn’t armed. We’ve no weapons 
but the paralysis guns. And if they’re 
hidden in some building, we could 
hardly find them from the air.” 

“I’ll ride a horse,” Drumm said, 
“and follow the trail. You can scout 
for me with the Pioneer. The paraly- 
sis gun will take care of Mr. Silver 
Skull, until the Utopians are ready to 
hang him.” 

He borrowed a harness-scarred geld- 
ing that once had carried a New York 
traffic officer, and which had quickly 
re-learned what it had forgotten — for 
animals too had been subject to the 
action of the tau-ray. With two bright 



little guns belted over the crimson 
coat, he swung briskly into the saddle, 
and rode into the deserted streets of 
the forbidden city. 

The hooves rang musically on the 
pavement, echoing against a strange 
depressing silence. The buildings 
already looked gray and neglected. 
Tufts of grass had pushed through 
cracks in the sidewalks. Broken win- 
dows leered. A naked white skeleton, 
here on the pavement, there on a door- 
step, told its own mute story of the 
Oblivion. 

Cartwright guided the Pioneer a 
hundred feet above. Alertly, at the 
ports, Pat Wayland and Mart Worth 
watched for any sign of the rene- 
gades. 

“The trail is leading toward the 
Lincoln Tunnel,” Worth commented. 
“Probably our Big Chief Silver Skull 
has got his headquarters somewhere 
in the old subways under Manhattan. 
We’ll never find him, there.” 

“But there might be an ambush.” 
The wide blue eyes of Pat Wayland 
rested on Drumm’s erect, red-clad 
figure. “You shouldn’t have let him 
ride in here. Jay,” she protested. “It’s 
splendid of him — the sort of dashing 
thing he loves. But he might be 
killed.” 

“I know,” Cartwright said soberly. 
“But I think we had better get this 
Silver Skull — I’ve got a hunch that 
he’s the Plan’s greatest enemy.” 

He looked suddenly away from the 
strained anxiety on her lovely face. 
Suddenly he was wistfully envious of 
the courage and dash of Captain 
Drumm. Probably none of the three 
would ever win Pat’s favor. But, if 
any did, it would be Drumm. Well, 
Cartwright insisted to himself, 
Drumm deserved her. There was 
never a braver man. 

“Oh— there!” 

Pat cried out the warning, pointing. 
Cartwright saw the little swarm of 
ragged grimy men. With a slinking, 
feral quickness, they darted out of 
weed-tangled alleys and broken win- 
dows. They rushed upon the lone 
horseman. 

“Jay — ” Pat was trembling, voice- 
less. “Can’t you do something?” 



THE FORTRESS OF UTOPIA 



55 



But already Cartwright was drop- 
ping the Pioneer into the street, to 
warn Drumm and possibly to discon- 
cert his attackers. But the scream- 
ing renegades, leaping to surround the 
horseman, paid the ship no heed. 

They were a fantastic lot, gaudy 
with silks and jewels from looted 
shops. Their weapons, Cartwright 
thought, must have come from some 
museum. For they carried swords and 
pikes and spears and medieval battle- 
axes. 

“Look!” gasped Pat Way land. 
“Silver Skull !” 

H ER quivering hand pointed to a 
dark gigantic man, who clutched 
the wrist of a frightened red-haired 
girl. All in green silk and fur, he was 
as splendid as Captain Drumm. On 
his head, hammered into a crude hel- 
met, he wore an aluminum kettle — 
whence, Cartwright thought, his name. 
His weapon was a long iron-tipped 
African assagai. 

Mouthing weird, incomprehensible 
cries, the renegades converged upon 
Captain Drumm. The frightened 
horse reared and snorted. But Drumm 
held his seat, without apparent effort, 
and a bright paralysis gun moved 
swiftly in his hand. 

Ping, ping, ping! 

The foremost renegades began to 
stiffen and drop. 

Dragging the girl. Silver Skull 
rushed forward. Thrust with all his 
weight, the assagai ripped into the 
belly of the rearing horse. It fell 
screaming backward, and Drumm went 
out of sight. 

“Oh!” whispered Pat. “He’s— un- 
der— 1 ” 

Her white hand caught at her throat. 
Desperately, Cartwright flung open 
the valves. He <vas cold, trembling — 
he wished that he had Drumm’s easy 
courage. But with Drumm pinned un- 
der the horse, it was up to him. He 
snatched a little paralysis gun out of 
its rack, and leaped out of the Pioneer. 

But he tripped over one of the fal- 
len renegades. Stumbling back to his 
feet, he saw the fantastic figure of 
Silver Skull toppling beside him. And 
Cautain Drumm rose, grinning and 



unharmed, behind the bulwark of the 
horse. 

“Well, Jay,” he said cheerfully, 
“we’ve got Silver Skull !” 

He turned to steady the paralysis 
gun on a berft elbow and drop the last 
of the renegades fleeing down the 
alley. The red-haired girl was on her 
knees, weeping, beside the fallen 
chieftain. Cartwright walked to her 
side, looked down at the tanned fea- 
tures beneath the batted aluminum 
helmet. 

A cold hand clutched his heart. 

“What’s the matter. Jay?” Captain 
Drumm came anxiously toward him. 
“You look as if you had seen a ghost.” 

“I have.” He pointed at the man on 
the ground. “Silver Skull is Lyman 
Galt!” 



CHAPTER XI 
The First Generation 



M ARTIN WORTH helped Pat 
Wayland down from the ship. 
They came to where the red-haired 
Utopian girl was weeping over the 
stiff form of the paralyzed chief. Pat 
started back from her first glimpse of 
him, and her face went white. All the 
V’s of little Worth’s face were sharp- 
ened by his sardonic smile. 

“We came to get Silver Skull,” he 
said softly, “so that the Utopians can 
hang him.” He laughed faintly. 
“Now we’ve got him.” 

Pat Wayland was clutching at her 
white throat. 

“But — it’s Lyman!” Her voice was 
husky. “We couldn’t take Lyman back 
to be hanged.” 

Little Martin Worth was staring at 
the fallen man, and all the sardonic 
mockery was gone from his face. 

“If I ever had a friend,” he whis- 
pered, “it was Lyman.” 

Stern little furrows etched the 
bronzed face of Captain Drumm as he 
snapped a fresh clip of tiny cartridges 
into the paralysis gun. 

“He was my friend, too,” he said 
softly. “But — does that mi.ke any dif- 
ference?” 



56 



STARTLING STORIES 



Slowly, Cartwright shook his yel- 
low head. 

“It makes no difference,” he said. 
“Because Silver Skull isn’t Lyman 
Galt. Lyman Galt was a sum of mem- 
ories, experiences. And all those were 
blotted out, by the tau-ray. Silver 
Skull is a new individual, in the same 
body. He is a renegade. He has 
broken Galt’s own Law. That Law 
says he must be hanged.” 

Drumm’s red head nodded slightly. 

“That’s true,” he said. 

But Pat Wayland made a sharp lit- 
tle cry of protest. 

“But we can’t — ” 

“We must,” said Martin Worth. 
Lyman gave his life to the Plan, and 
it meant more than life to him. Now 
I think that Silver Skull is the great- 
est single danger to the Plan. I don’t 
think that there is any doubt about 
what Lyman himself would want us 
to do.” 

Cartwright was staring at the man 
on the ground. The tangled black 
beard and the aluminum kettle and the 
gaudy silks seemed to melt away, and 
he saw all the fatigue and the pain 
and the desperate hope that the tau- 
ray had swept from the face of Lyman 
Galt. 

“Mart’s right,” he said. “Galt’s real 
life was the Utopia that he planned — 
the hope that that Utopia will be able 
to escape the Holocaust. This rene- 
gade is a threat to Utopia, to the very 
survival of men through the nebula. 
I don’t think we have any choice.” 

His yellow head made a sharp little 
jerk. He looked away from the stiff 
fantastic figure on the ground, down 
to the weed-tangled street. 

“We — we’ll vote.” 

Ignoring the catch in his voice, he 
fumbled in his pocket for a handful 
of beans. He held them out in his left 
hand, and cupped his right. They had 
used this method of decision before. 

“A black one is a vote for the death 
of Silver Skull,” he said huskily. 
“Three votes carry.” 

He looked aside as one by one the 
others came forward, selected a bean 
from his left hand and dropped it into 
his right. Over his own vote, he 
paused half a minute. Despite him- 



self, he looked back at Silver Skull. 
And the barbaric trappings seemed to 
fade again, so that he saw only the 
tired gravely gentle man he had 
known. 

After all, there could be one white 
bean. 

T HEY all gathered around him, and 
he opened his hand. Pat Way- 
land made a little breathless cry. 
Drum caught his breath. Worth 
smiled sardonicaly. For there were 
four white beans. 

“Four!” whispered Pat. “Then he 
lives!” 

But Cartwright and Drumm and 
Worth were looking soberly at one 
another. Cartwright shook his head. 

“I thought — ” he muttered jerkily 
— “I guess we all thought — I think 
we’ll have to vote again.” 

Pat Wayland’s tense fingers grip- 
ped his arm. 

“You mean you are going to take 
him back to be hanged — after we have 
all voted to set him free?” 

He nodded. Worth did. And 
Drumm. 

“Don’t you see, Pat?” he said hus- 
kily. “If we leave him, the risk to the 
Plan is too great.” 

The girl’s blue eyes searched their 
tense faces. Suddenly she lifted her 
platinum head. 

“We don’t have to hang him,” she 
cried. “There’s a better way. We can 
use the ideophore on him.” 

Cartwright shook his head, doubt- 
fully. 

“I don’t know,” he said. “If we had 
found him right after the Oblivion, the 
ideophore would have made him a 
leader of Utopia. But now his hard- 
ships and his struggle to survive have 
given him an independent aggressive 
personality. I’m afraid the ideophore 
wouldn’t change that. I. can still 
teach him facts. But I don’t think 
it will make a good Utopian out of 
him. You know, we have found a 
rising curve of failures, ever since 
the first few weeks. Now, if we could 
use the tauray on him again — ” 

“The tau-ray works just once,” Pat 
Wayland said. “An immunity is de- 
veloped to the virus.” Her face was 



THE FORTRESS OF UTOPIA 



57 



pale and taut. “But let’s try the ideo- 
phore.” Her blue eyes went appeal- 
ingly from face to face. “I believe it 
will work. Let’s vote again.” 

“If you think it will work — ” 

They balloted again, and again there 
were four white beans. 

“It is the ideophore,” said Cart- 
wright, slowly. “And I hope it makes 
a different man of Silver Skull. I 
hope it gives us back . . . Lyman Galt.” 
The Utopian girl watched them, 
tearfully, as they brought the portable 
ideophore and fitted one of its helmets 
to the renegade’s head, in place of the 
aluminum kettle. When the thing was 
done, Cartwright offered to take her 
back to the town. 

Kneeling over the prostrate man, 
she shook her head. 

“I shall stay with Silver Skull,” she 
told him. “He made me break the Law. 
He made me touch the forbidden 
things, and enter the forbidden places. 
Now I am an outcast, and I shall stay 
with him.” 

She clung to his brown hand. 

“He is not like any man I knew in 
the town. He speaks little. He knows 
nothing of science and Utopia and the 
Law of the Four and the Holocaust to 
come. But he has a strength, a fire. 
I shall stay with him.” 

Pat Wayland moved suddenly for- 
ward, and touched the girl’s red head. 



She slipped a thin jeweled watch from 
her arm, and put it on the girl’s slen- 
der wrist. Tears gleamed in her eyes. 

“Take this,” she whispered. “He 
gave it to me, many years ago. But he 
doesn’t remember.” 

“Thank you,” she whispered. “The 
Four are very good.” 

^W^HEN Silver Skull wakes,” 
w w Cartwright warned her, “tell 
him to cease molesting the Utopians. 
T ell him that we are giving them new 
weapons that can destroy him. Tell 
him to heed the Law that we have 
taught him as he slept. Tell him that 
if we must come again, we shall kill 
him.” 

The girl’s tearful face burst into a 
smile. 

“Then you haven’t harmed him. You 
are going to let him live?” Cart- 
wright nodded. “Then the Four are 
very kind.” 

“Perhaps,” murmured Cartwright, 
“too kind.” 

They carried the ideophore back 
aboard the geoflexor. Looking back 
from the drumming Pioneer , as it 
lifted with them, they saw Silver 
Skull stir and rise. He made the girl 
fit the aluminum helmet back upon his 
head. Then, pushing her behind him, 
he caught up the bloody assagai and 

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MR. WRIGHT: Gee, 
this stuff is awful! 
Why do all laxatives 
taste so bad? 



MRS. WRIGHT: All 

of them don't. Ex- 
Lax tastes like de- 
licious chocolate. 



MR. W. : Ex-Lax? 
That's O.K. for you 
and Junior, but I need 
something stronger I 



MRS. W.: No. you 
don't 1 Ex-Lax is just 
as effective as any 
bad -tasting cathartic. 



MR. W. : I sure am MRS. W.: Yes. with 

glad I took your ad- Ex-Lix in the house 

vice. It’s Ex-Lax for we don't need any 

me from now on. other laxative ! 



The action of Ex-Lax is thorough, 
yet gentle! No shock. No strain. 
No weakening after-effects. 
Just an easy, comfortable 
bowel movement that ^ 
brings blessed relief. M : . 

T ry Ex-Lax the next 
time you need a lax- 
ative. It’s good for 
every member of 
the family. 



10* and 25f 




58 



STARTLING STORIES 



shook it angrily at the departing ship. 

“Still,” Pat Wayland insisted, “I 
believe the ideophore will change 
him.” 

“We’ll come back before we leave 
the Earth,” Cartwright said, “and see.” 

For another year, they toured the 
communities of Utopia. It was impos- 
sible, Pat Wayland at last agreed, for 
the ideophore to make any more rene- 
gades into good Utopians. All the 
towns that had suffered from the un- 
regenerate bands were supplied with 
instructions for defense. 

Many thousands received ideophore 
training in science and technology 
and the various arts. And hundreds of 
the most promising scientists received 
a special reel devoted to astronomy 
and all that was known of the advanc- 
ing nebula. 

“The whole object of the Plan,” 
Cartwright said, “is to enable men to 
advance far enough to save the Earth 
from the Holocaust. We must never 
let the Utopians forget their great 
task.” 

The Pioneer came back at last to 
that town in New Jersey. Cartwright 
was amazed at the progress of a single 
year. Straw-thatched huts had given 
way to neat tiled cottages and pleasant 
community buildings. A hundred 
new industries were busy, and the 
happy-seeming people had replaced 
their tattered Old World garments 
with gay synthetic fabrics. 

Geoflexor fliers, similar in design to 
the Pioneer, although their copper 
cathode power tubes were not power- 
ful enough for interplanetary flight, 
already carried commerce between the 
Utopian towns. 

A world-wide Congress of Men had 
been organized, to coordinate all effort 
toward the great problem of the com- 
ing Holocaust. Plans were already 
drawn for a super-observatory, to be 
erected upon a western mountain. 

Anxiously, Cartwright inquired 
about the renegades. 

“There were a few more raids,” the 
leader of the town told him. “But we 
turned back the last of them with the 
new machine guns. And now we have 
finished a charged wire barrier and a 
wall of towers, surrounding the for- 



bidden city. I think there will be no 
more trouble.” 

“Silver Skull?” •asked Cartwright. 
“Their leader — do you know anything 
of him?” 

The Utopian shook his head. 

“Silver Skull has not been seen 
since the Four pursued him into the 
city. We believe that he was afraid 
to defy the Law again. Anyhow, with 
our new defenses, Utopia is safe.” 

T HE Pioneer flew westward, to the 
new metropolis of Star City. The 
new observatory was to be erected 
above it. And the Congress of Man 
was already in session there. The rep- 
resentatives of Utopia greeted the 
Four with a warm respect. 

Forgetting his old diffidence in the 
urgency of what he had to say, Cart- 
wright spoke before the Congress. He 
reminded them of the approaching 
nebula, and the great task of saving 
Earth and mankind. 

“I don’t know how it can be done,” 
he said. “For it is a bigger thing than 
men have ever tried to do. The 
science of the Four enables us to do 
many things. But it suggests no an- 
swer to this great problem. 

“We Four, will aid you in every way 
we can. We shall return from our 
own place at intervals of thirty years, 
to see what progress you have made. 
But we can do little more than ob- 
serve your efforts, and suggest lines 
of effort, and keep the new generations 
reminded of the task. 

“For the problem is one that no 
small group will be able to solve, nor 
any single generation. Two hundred 
and twenty-eight years are left, before 
the Holocaust. Every day of it will 
probably be needed. 

“Now the job is up to you. We’ll 
come back, in Nineteen Seventy-two, 
I should say, the year thirty-two of 
the Oblivion — to see what you have 
done.” 

Applause thundered in the hall. Pat 
Wayland and Mart Worth and Cap- 
tain Drumm were called to the plat- 
form. The Utopians made confident 
promises of progress. And then the 
Four went back aboard the Pioneer. 
Star City dropped behind. The con- 



THE FORTRESS OF UTOPIA 



59 



vexity of western America contracted 
into the Earth’s misty globe. The 
rugged Mooti grew large against the 
stars ahead, and the little ship 
dropped toward the white fortress on 
the peak of Arzachel. 

A photo-cell opened a massive valve 
in its wall, and Cartwright maneuv- 
ered the Pioneer into a compartment 
buried behind many yards of rock and 
armor. 

“To protect the ship against meteo- 
rites,” Captain Drumm explained to 
Pat. “Here, with no atmospheric bar- 
rier, we have to expect a good many of 
them. In two hundred years, or even 
thirty, there’s a fair chance that one 
would smash the Pioneer.” 

“What about us?” queried the girl. 
“Inside?” 

“That depends.” It was Worth who 
answered, grinning sardonically. “A 
few tons of steel, going thirty or forty 
miles a second, could give the fortress 
quite a jolt. If you care for an esti- 
mate of the statistical probability — ” 

“Never mind,” Pat said hastily. 

The elevator dropped them nine 
thousand feet, into the narrow gray- 
walled corridor before the vaults of 
sleep. The girl hurried from cell to 
cell, setting the elaborate clockwork 
mechanism within the armored doors. 
At last she came back to the others, 
nervous and pale. 

“They are set for thirty years,” she 
whispered. “For 1972.” 

For a strained little moment they 
all crowded close together. Cart- 
wright didn’t want to leave the others. 
There was something terrible about 
the very thought of going to sleep for 
thirty years. 

S O many things could happen. Sup- 
pose a great meteor did strike? 
Even if it didn’t kill them as they 
slept, it might cave in the elevator 
shaft, and leave them buried alive. 
Suppose the clockwork failed? If 
some tiny part went wrong, they 
might never wake again. Even if the 
clockwork operated perfectly, there 
still was danger. The effects of the 
sleep gas had never been tested over 
a period so long. 

Anything might happen. 



“Night, darling.” 

Captain Drumm spoke cheerfully to 
Pat, and strode into the vault that bore 
his name. The girl gave him a white, 
uncertain smile. Worth turned si- 
lently away. With a little awkward 
gesture, Cartwright walked into his 
own narrow cell. 

He closed the massive door, and sat 
down on the bunk. The gray walls 
seemed very close about him. He could 
almost feel the weight of the thou- 
sands of feet of rock above. Suddenly 
he was breathless, cold with sweat. 

He pulled off his clothing, drew on 
the light robe, and reached at last for 
the stud on the wall that would start 
the mechanism. But his hand fell 
away. He sat, as it were, shuddering 
on the brink of an abyss of three 
decades. 

Beyond the faint racing tick of the 
clockwork, there was no other sound. 
The silence was overwhelming, the 
burden of a world where motion had 
ceased. Thirty years meant nothing, 
here. No more than thirty seconds, or 
thirty millennia. For the Moon was 
dead. 

Thirty years, he wondered rest- 
lessly — what would they mean to the 
Earth? Would the Utopians carry on, 
from the beginning they had made? 
What marvels of science might three 
decades disclose? 

A dread obsessed him. Suppose 
something turned the Utopians away 
from their great task? Recklessness 
of futurity, or despair. Then thirty 
years would be just one tremendous 
leap toward the Holocaust, toward the 
final end. 

He wished, suddenly, that he knew 
what the ideophore had done to Ly- 
man Galt. 

The silence clotted about him. He 
moved, clapped his hands together, 
made a dry-lipped effort to whistle. 
But the stillness grew. It came in 
little waves, that drowned the ticking 
of the clock. For it was death. It was 
the enemy of motion and life — 

“Aw, nuts !” 

Cartwright jerked the words out. 
With a sudden effort he touched the 
stud on the wall. The light went out. 
He heard a hissing. The fragrant 



60 



STARTLING STORIES 



* 



pungence of the sleep gas was strong 
in his nostrils. He had just time to 
settle into a comfortable position on 
the bunk. 

He slept. 

On Earth, a generation passed. 



CHAPTER XII 
The Gray Chieftain 



A DRAUGHT of cold air waked 
Jay Cartwright. His body felt 
oddly numb and stiff, but he sat up on 
the edge of the bunk. He blinked his 
sticky eyes, and stared bewilderedly 
about the small gray cell, and at last 
saw the clock on the door. 

It was August 18, 1972. The thirty 
years were ended. 

He stood up, painfully. Opened a 
sealed water-jar. Rinsed his dry, bit- 
ter-tasting mouth. Splashed water 
over his stiff dry skin. Gulped 
thirstily. 

Movement restored elasticity. Put- 
ting on his clothing, he became con- 
scious of a ravening hunger. He felt 
weak with famine as he pushed to 
open the massive door. 

He was the first in the narrow gray 
hall. He waited^ wondering what 
thirty years had done to Utopia. And 
what it had done to them. Would they 
be changed, aged? 

There was no mirror in the hall. 
But Cartwright thought that he had 
an old man’s stiffness. He looked at 
his hands — they seemed thinner, yel- 
lowed. He fingered the beard on his 
face. 

At last little Worth came out. His 
black beard grew down to a point, 
making him appear more satanic than 
ever. But, to Cartwright’s relief, he 
was not visibly older. 

“Sleep well?” Worth grinned sar- 
donically. “Half a dozen more such 
naps, and the Earth will be plunging 
into the nebula — unless our Uptopian 
friends have found something to do 
about it.” 

He burst suddenly into laughter, at 
sight of the thick red expanse of Cap- 
tain Drumm’s beard. Pat Wayland, 



her blond beauty unchanged, came out 
of her own vault, and stared at the 
men. 

“Evidently,” she observed, “the 
hair-roots remain disproportionately 
active. I hope your razors haven’t 
rusted.” 

The elevator whisked them to the 
living compartments above. It was 
the lunar mid-morning. The harsh 
desert floor of Arzachel remained as 
ever changeless. Northward, above 
the dark peaks of the barrier ring, 
hung the Earth. 

“Thirty years!” Pat was whisper- 
ing, faintly, as they all stared at the 
mother planet. It was huge and 
bright against the starry void, mottled 
with cloud, msyterious. “I can’t wait 
to see what has happened. 

“Perhaps the seed we planted will 
already have grown beyond our 
knowledge. Perhaps the Utopians 
have already found a way of escape.” 
“More likely,” Worth said, “they 
have forgotten about the nebula, and 
gone to building empires.” 

“If they have,” Cartwright said, 
“we’ll remind them again.” 

The shaft of Earthshine, through 
the port, struck Pat Wayland’s face. 
It softened her smooth features, and 
her blond hair shone. Her eyes were 
dark and grave. 

“I wonder,” she whispered, “what 
has happened to Lyman.” 

“We all do, I guess,” Cartwright 
said. “Perhaps we’ll find out, on 
Earth. But, first we eat.” 

“And shave,” said Captain Drumm. 
Five hours later, the Pioneer 
dropped toward Star City, on the Pa- 
cific coast. Three decades had made 
it a splendid metropolis, the graceful 
pylons of its buildings wide-scattered 
across verdant parklands. 

The parks were crowded today, for 
the Utopians had planned a festival to 
honor the return of the Four. An es- 
cort of gay-painted geoflexor ships 
guided the Pioneer to the entrance of 
the splendid new white glass hall of 
the Congress of Man, where the com- 
mittee of welcome was waiting. 

A N aging, white-haired man came 
smiling to take their hands. 



THE FORTRESS OF UTOPIA 



61 



“Welcome, Four,” his cracked voice 
said. “Perhaps you don’t remember 
me. I am the first man you taught, 
after the Oblivion. I am the leader of 
Eden Tower, in the east. Remem- 
ber?” 

Cartwright remembered the tall 
man who had worn a hotel doorman’s 
uniform. He nodded, listening. 

“We have made a great festival in 
your honor. For we remember that 
you came to our aid, after the Ob- 
livion, and taught us how to build 
Utopia. We have planned displays, 
to show you the greatness and the 
splendor that we owe to you.” 

Martin Worth’s eyebrows flickered 
sardonically. 

“What about the Holocaust?” Cart- 
wright demanded. “What progress 
have you made toward saving Earth 
from collision with the nebula?” 

“There is our observatory.” 

The aged Utopian beckoned at the 
dark arid mountains beyond the city. 
Like a white jewel, shining on a peak, 
they glimpsed the dome of it. 

“The scientists are working there,” 
he said. “And now the Congress of 
Man is waiting to receive you. There 
will be speeches by the greatest of 
the leaders, and our foremost scien- 
tists.” 

“Just what, definitely,” Cartwright 
asked, “have they accomplished?” 

“They are following a hundred lines 
of research,” said the Utopian. “None 
of them is yet complete — but we have 
two hundred years, before the Holo- 
caust.” 

“Which,” Cartwright said, “is a 
pretty short time, against the job you 
have to do.” 

“Wait,” the Utopian urged him, 
“until you see all that we have done 
— our splendid cities, our new ma- 
chines, our painting and sculpture, 
our athletes — all of Utopia. 

“Ours is a cooperative world. We 
have made a place for every individ- 
ual. There is no hunger or want or 
idleness. Competition is eliminated. 
There is no strife or disorder, because 
all of us hold the same ideals. Every 
need of every individual is provided 
for. We are each a part of the one 
great Plan. Now, the speakers are 



waiting. Will you receive welcome?” 
“Wait,” Cartwright said. “One 
more question. What about the rene- 
gades?” 

“They trouble us no more.” The 
old Utopian shook his head. “They 
have been almost exterminated. We 
still keep guards posted in the towers 
of the barrier, but they seldom even 
glimpse any of the few renegades that 
remain.” 

“Silver Skull — did you ever learn 
any more of him?” 

“Nothing,” said the Utopian. “He 
was never seen, after you pursued him 
back into the forbidden places. The 
Congress is waiting.” 

At last the speeches were done, the 
tour of cities and factories and labo- 
ratories ended. Cartwright made his 
final promise that the Four would re- 
turn again in the year 62 of the Ob- 
livion, and every thirty years until the 
Holocaust. For a last time he urged 
the tremendous importance of finding 
a way to escape the nebula. And the 
Pioneer rose again from Star City. 

Looking back at the far-spread 
splendor of the Utopian metropolis, 
Cartwright doubtfully shook his yel- 
low head. 

Wf ’M not quite happy about it alif’ 
M. he said. “It seems to me there 
is too much ceremony and too many 
games and too much respect for the 
Law — and not enough real hard work 
on the problem.” 

“After all,” said Captain Drumm, 
“they still have two hundred years.” 
“That’s just the trouble,” Cart- 
wright said. “Men never have wor- 
ried very much about what was going 
to happen to their great-great-grand- 
children. Not even the ideophore can 
make them do that.” 

“Anyhow,” Drumm said, “the dan- 
ger will become more real to them as 
time goes on. With the fine begin- 
ning they have already made, they 
can’t help going ahead.” 

“We’ll see,” said Cartwright, “in the 
year two thousand and two. 

Pat Wayland had been staring si- 
lently back at the Earth. Her plati- 
num head turned abruptly, and her 
blue eyes were grave. 



62 



STARTLING STORIES 



“In Two Thousand Two,” she whis- 
pered. “I was thinking of Lyman. By 
then, he’ll be dead. If he isn’t already. 
I was just wondering what the ideo- 
phore did to him. If — ” 

Her troubled eyes looked at Cart- 
wright, and Drumm, and Worth. 

“Can we land in New York?” she 
asked. “We might find what became 
of Silver Skull.” 

“I’d like to know,” Cartwright said. 

“There’s danger,” Worth reminded 
them. “The renegades weren’t too 
friendly to begin with, and thirty 
years of imprisonment in the barrier 
fences can’t have made them any 
kinder.” 

“We beat them once,” declared Cap- 
tain Drumm. “We can do it again.” 

They turned the Pioneer toward 
what had been New York. The sun 
sank behind them as they approached 
the ruins. Thirty years, they saw, had 
made a change. Beyond the white 
towers that studded the barrier, and 
the green well-ordered countrysides 
of Utopia, the old metropolis made a 
dark, rust-stained blot. 

Cartwright brought the ship down 
in Times Square, to the very spot from 
which he had watched the Oblivion 
come. Time-stained buildings tow- 
ered lonely about them, hail-shattered 
windows staring blankly. 

Weeds had conquered the pave- 
ments. Abandoned taxis made little 
mounds of debris beside the curbs. A 
few white human bones, here and 
there, still spoke their mute tales of 
the Oblivion. 

“I wonder — ” Cartwright shook his 
head. “It’s queer there’s no sign at all 
of the renegades.” 

He moved the Pioneer up and down 
Broadway, dropping to the pavement 
at a dozen different spots. But there 
were only weeds and rust and tum- 
bling buildings and those time- 
bleached bones. 

“It’s no use,” said Martin Worth. 
“The Utopian guards have probably 
exterminated them.” 

Cartwright nodded. 

“I think we may as well give it up.” 

He had lifted the Pioneer again, 
when Pat Wayland caught at his arm. 

“Look — there’s someone in Central 



♦ 

Park. A girl, I think. It looks as if 
she’s picking flowers.” 

C ARTWRIGHT brought the little 
ship down again. The girl stood 
watching, as it landed near her. She 
wore a simple brief little dress of flow- 
ered print — that, Cartwright knew, 
must have been manufactured before 
the Oblivion. She was tall and dark- 
haired, and her arms and legs were 
tanned. Holding the bunch of wild 
flowers against her breast, she 
watched them, unafraid. 

“Pretty,” murmured Captain 
Drumm. 

“Let’s go out and talk to her,” Pat’s 
blue eyes were shining eagerly. 
“Probably she can tell us what became 
of Silver Skull.” 

“Better go armed.” Worth thrust 
paralysis guns at Cartwright and 
Drumm. “She might not be the sim- 
ple angel that she looks.” 

Cartwright opened the valve, and 
led the way down to the thick-matted 
grass. The girl began to retreat from 
them, toward the old subway entrance 
at Columbus Circle. 

“Hello,” Pat Wayland called to her. 
“We won’t hurt you.” 

“Go away,” the watchful girl 
shouted back. “I don’t like Out- 
siders.” 

“We just want to talk to you,” re- 
turned Pat. “Where are your peo- 
ple?” 

“I have no people,” said the girl. 
“My people are all dead.” 

“Did you know Silver Skull?” Pat 
Wayland’s face was white. “We were 
friends of Silver Skull.” 

“Come, if you were friends of Silver 
Skull,” the girl called back. “I show 
you the grave where he is buried.” 
She let them approach within a few 
yards of her, and then led the way 
again toward the old subway. Tall and 
strong and tanned, moving with an 
alert quick grace, she was almost 
beautiful. But some hint of re- 
strained hostility made Cartwright 
apprehensive. He gripped the little 
paralysis gun. 

“You need have no fear,” she called 
sofly, “for I am all alone. This is the 
grave of my father.” 



THE FORTRESS OF UTOPIA 



63 



She bent over a tangled clump of 
weeds — and then suddenly rose and 
swung to face them, with a well-oiled 
sub-machine gun cradled in her brown 
arms. Her clear voice pealed out, tri- 
umphantly ; 

“Father! Sam! Harry!” 

A little band of silent, grim-faced 
men rose magically out of the weeds. 
They were bristling with knives and 
guns, and came forward with a wary 
alertness. 

Captain Drumm's hand moved, with 
the paralysis gun. And the tanned 
girl swung her heavy weapon to cover 
him. Her brown face held a mocking 
smile. 

“Don’t move,” she warned. “So you 
thought my father was dead?” 

With a soft little cry, Pat Wayland 
stared. 

Cartwright saw the tall, gray- 
bearded man striding from the old 
subway entrance. Despite the wrin- 
kles above the beard, and the stoop of 
years upon the great shoulders, Cart- 
wright knew him. 

It was Silver Skull, who had been 
Lyman Galt. 

m — " 11 ■i - ' . ■ "S 

CHAPTER XIII 

The Meteor 



G ALT! Staring at the gnarled, 
stooped old man, Cartwright felt 
a prickle along his spine. It was un- 
canny. For it seemed only a few days 
ago, instead of thirty years, that Ly- 
man Galt had been a young and vig- 
orous man, burning with enthusiasm 
for his great Plan. 

Using his iron-tipped spear for a 
cane, old Silver Skull came up to them. 
He beckoned, and two lean men with 
leveled rifles stepped alertly up beside 
the tanned girl. Cartwright wondered 
at something familiar in their dark- 
haired strength, and then knew that 
they were the sons of Silver Skull. 

Little Mart Worth grinned sardon- 
ically at Pat. 

“So the ideophore changed him?” 
he whispered. “It taught him how to 
set neat little traps.” 



The man who had been Lyman Galt 
spoke in a thin, cracked voice that was 
still queer ly familiar: 

“You Outsiders come into Manhat. 
You kill us when we go out. You 
fence us in. You shoot us from your 
towers. Now you come into Manhat. 
We kill you.” His seamed face grin- 
ned at them, amiably. “Is that not 
right?” 

He beckoned to the girl, and she 
moved to his side with the machine 
gun. The paralysis gun flashed in the 
hand of Captain Drumm. But one of 
the rifles cracked, and the little wea- 
pon went spinning away. Drumm 
nursed his fingers. 

“Don’t do that,” Silver Skull grin- 
ned wider. “I think we better kill 
you now.” 

Pat Wayland ran suddenly toward 
him. 

“Lyman — wait!” Her voice was 
urgent, pleading. “Don’t you remem- 
ber us — your Plan — me?” 

Silver Skull stopped her with the 
point of his spear. 

“You pretty, eh?” His hollow eyes 
surveyed her pale, trembling form. 
“My sons, Sam, Harry, take you if 
they want. But I don’t think they 
want.” He spat. “Outsider women 
no good. Too soft. You beat them, 
they die.” 

Pat pressed forward until the spear 
came against her body. She held out 
her slim arms imploringly. 

“Please — Lyman — remember !” Her 
husky voice was frantic. “Remember 
that you are Lyman Galt. Remember 
the nebula! Remember your great 
Plan, to save mankind from the Holo- 
caust !” 

Silver Skull grunted, and shook his 
gray head. 

“I am no Lymangal. I am Silver 
Skull. I am chief of Manhat. I never 
saw you. I think you only try to trick 
me. I think we better kill you.” 

He thrust a little with the spear, and 
the girl went white. She gripped the 
shaft, and her blue eyes clung des- 
perately to the bearded man. 

“Lyman — try to remember. Can’t 
you remember — long ago — that you 
loved me?” 

Old Silver Skull stepped back a lit- 



64 



STARTLING STORIES 



tie, and lowered the spear. His 
gnarled fingerswiped a crimson drop 
from the point. His hollow eyes 
stared at the girl. He tugged bewil- 
deredly at his beard. 

“I remember a dream,” he mumbled. 
“He came riding on a horse” — he 
jerked his head at Captain Drumm — 
“and killed me with a little death. And 
I saw a dream.” 

His blurred eyes stared past them, 
and he scratched at his unkempt head. 

“The dream showed me many 
things. I saw a cloud of fire. It’s 
name is Holocaust. It is coming to 
burn the world. The Outsiders must 
try to find a way to escape. If they 
can.” 

H E peered again at Pat and the 
others. 

“You were in the dream. You were 
called the Four.” His gray head 
shook, bewilderedly. “You were young 
in the dream. That was before Sam 
and Harry came. You still are young. 

I don’t know.” 

“Oh, Lyman,” sobbed Pat, “ I knew 
you would remember!” 

Silver Skull spat. 

“I don’t remember. It was a dream. 
But go.” He shook the spear, angrily. 
“Get out. Go away. Don’t come back. 
I think I let you go, this time. But 
I kill you if you come back again. For 
I am Silver Skull, chief of Manhat.” 
Cartwright caught Pat’s arm, and 
they all started back toward the 
Pioneer. 

“Well, Mart,” the girl said, shakily, 
“I think the ideophore saved our lives, 
after all !” 

With geodes booming, the Pioneer 
carried them back to the fortress of 
the Moon. They dropped in the ele- 
vator to the vaults of sleep. Pat Way- 
land set the clocks to wake them again 
in the year Two Thousand and Two. 
The aromatic gas hissed into the 
sealed chambers, and they slept. 

The Moon turned on its axis, spin- 
ning the months away. It swung with 
the Earth about the Sun, counting off 
the years. In the tiny swarm of the 
solar system’s worlds, it hurtled north- 
ward, decade after decade. 

Above the rugged peaks of Ar- 



zachel, the Earth hung ever in the 
northward sky. It spun through its 
phases, from flaming crescent to misty 
disk, and disk to crescent again. The 
lazy blinding Sun crept for two long 
weeks across the stars, and set for two 
weeks more of night. 

Out of the cosmic infinitude came 
an atom of metal. A mere few tons of 
nickel iron. Unglimpsed by the busy 
astronomers of Utopia, it flashed above 
the rim of Arzachel, and struck the 
central peak. 

The Moon continued to measure off 
the months, and the Utopian astron- 
omers saw no change in its rugged 
face. The Earth swung through the 
years, to Two Thousand and Two 
A. D. 

That was the year 62 of the Ob- 
livion, and all Utopia joined in a great 
festival to honor the second return of 
the Four. Scientists prepared to ex- 
hibit their discoveries, and the Con- 
gress of Man was called into session, 
to welcome the Four. 

But the appointed day passed, the 
month, and the year, and the Four did 
not return. 

“Perhaps,” suggested the speaker of 
the Congress, “the Four have paid 
Utopia a secret visit, without our 
knowledge. Or perhaps they were con- 
tent to observe our work, from their 
own mysterious place. But surely 
they will return when another thirty 
years have gone. For they promised 
to visit every generation, so the task 
would not be forgotten.” 

A new festival, therefore, was ar- 
ranged in the year 92 of the Oblivion. 
But still the Four did not return. 
There was another festival in the year 
122, and in 152, in 182, in 212. The 
Four did not appear. 

“Now they will never come,” de- 
clared the director of the last festival. 
“For the predicted Holocaust will be 
upon us before another generation.” 

And still the Moon and its mother 
planet moved through the well-or- 
dered complexity of their motions, 
and the Sun drew its busy family 
northward. And, out of the galactic 
infinitude, a pinch of nebular dust 
moved toward an age-appointed ren- 
dezvous. 



THE FORTRESS OF UTOPIA 



65 



A rendezvous with the death of all 
life. 



CHAPTER XIV 
The World Beneath 



C HIEF SILVER SKULL was a 
rude barbarian. The ideophore 
increased his knowledge and sharp- 
ened his wits, but otherwise it did not 
change him greatly. The second gen- 
eration, however, made new advances. 

The captured women had known 
how to write and read the simplified 
English of Utopia. The ideophore had 
tayght the same art to Silver Skull. 
The language of the old books in the 
libraries of New York looked like a 
different tongue. But one of the sons 
of Silver Skull learned how to read 
them, and opened all the knowledge 
of the Old World to the renegades. 

The raids into Utopia were inter- 
rupted for a few years by the building 
of the guarded barrier. But the pris- 
oners in the old metropolis presently 
found a way to resume them, more 
cautiously. 

From the very first days, the sub- 
ways had proved useful. Because of 
the Law, the Utopians had never dared 
to enter them. They offered a way of 
passing unseen from one part to 
another of the ruins, and a sure hiding 
place from the scouting ships and the 
guards upon the towers. 

It was natural to think of digging 
a tunnel out under the barrier. When 
it was done, a new degree of caution 
was essential to prevent discovery of 
the entrance. But, through the ideo- 
phore, Silver Skull knew enough of 
the Utopians to warn his sons of all 
the probable dangers, and their noc- 
turnal forays were successful. 

The lives of the renegades and their 
children were not easy. They lived 
dangerously in the shadow of Utopia. 
They got their food by hunting at 
night in the forests that swiftly re- 
conquered the ruins, by furtively 
cultivating bits of ground, by fishing 
in the waters they could reach. They 
lived without certainty. But each dif- 



ficulty that they conquered seemed al- 
ways to prepare them to overcome 
another. 

When- the first tunnel was com- 
pleted, they continued to dig others 
in search of mineral wealth. At first 
they dug laboriously, with hand tools. 
But the spies who went out into 
Utopia soon brought back the secret 
of the copper-cathode power tube. 

The debris from the new excava- 
tions threatened for a time to clog the 
old subways. But a grandson of Sil- 
ver Skull devised a compression-lock, 
through which it could be ejected 
upon the ocean floor. 

Submarines powered by the copper- 
cathode tubes had no need to betray 
their existence by rising to the sur- 
face. Undersea fleets found the 
needed raw materials that could not 
be obtained upon the land. 

The Under-men, as they came to call 
themselves, built up a secret power. 
The network of their tunnels crossed 
every continent, and the domed ports 
of their submarine fleets studded 
every continental shelf. 

In the year 212 of the Oblivion, as 
the Under-men had learned from the 
Utopians to count time, Chief Soro 
Grekko brought his young son, Kran, 
back to the ruins of New York. Soro 
Grekko, now the ruler of the Under- 
men, was the great-great-grandson of 
Silver Skull. Powerful, dark-haired, 
he bore a strong resemblance to his an- 
cestor. This likeness was even more 
striking in the case of his dark-eyed 
%gn, who was now fifteen. 

M AKING two hundred miles an 
hour through evacuated tubes, 
the private rail car of the Chief 
brought them to a city a mile beneath 
and fifty miles to seaward of the old 
metropolis. They took a branch line 
toward the westward petroleum dril- 
lings, and climbed on foot through one 
of the first tunnels, and at last 
emerged into one of the ancient sub- 
ways, and mounted a crumbling stair 
into the sunlight. 

For a moment Kran Grekko was daz- 
zled. And then, staring at the un- 
familiar wonders of grass, and green 
trees, and a silent dappled deer watch- 



ti6 



STARTLING STORIES 



ing them from a little glade, and the 
blue incredible splendor of the sky 
above, he voiced a breathless cry of 
joy. 

“Father — it — it’s wonderful!” 

The dark face of the Chief grew 
stern as he nodded. 

“It is beautiful,” he said soberly. 
“Vast as are the tunnels and passages 
our people have made, the world above 
is a thousand times more spacious, and 
its sky is more splendid than all our 
limestone caverns. But come — you 
shall see.” 

He led the way southward, in the 
shadow of a thick and ancient forest. 
The boy followed him, pausing again 
and again to exclaim at the wonder of 
a wild flower or a squirrel or a song- 
bird. 

“Once,” said the grim-faced Chief, 
“our fathers lived here. This, so the 
ancient records tell us, was their 
greatest city. Ten times more people 
lived here than in all the spaces of 
the Under-men.” 

He paused, pointed. 

“You see that long, low hill, with 
great trees growing upon it — that was 
once a row of the buildings of our 
fathers. Time, and fires, and tremors 
of the Earth, have leveled them. 

“But once our people dwelt here — 
free to the air and the Sun and the 
stars.” 

“See, Father!” The boy pointed, 
breathless. “That stone is squared!” 
He ran to touch it, hurried on. “Why 
was it, Father, that our people were 
driven under the ground? Really, 1 
mean. All the history books said about 
it seemed so strange, so hard to under- 
stand.” 

The Chief shook his dark head, bit- 
terly. 

“It has always been hard for us to 
understand,” he said. “I’m to tell you 
what we know. Just wait a few min- 
utes, until you have seen Utopia — that 
is what the Outsiders call their 
world.” 

The boy stopped again, to point 
wonderingly at a tall monument of 
brown, strangely graven stone, that 
towered alone above the trees. 

“Look, Father. There is one build- 
ing of the old city that stands.” 



“But it isn’t of the old city,” the 
Chief told him. “It is far older. For 
the ancient books tell us that it was 
first set up when civilization was 
young, in a forgotten land above our 
cavern city of Ohor. It is odd that 
the oldest thing should remain. 

Beyond the obelisk they plunged 
again into the forest. At last, when 
they came into another little glade, the 
boy pointed with an exclamation of 
wonder into the sky. 

ATHER — what is that?” 
Above the treetops was a 
round, shining tower. It looks as far 
off as the sky !” 

“That was the greatest house of the 
Old World,” said the Chief. “Even 
the Utopians have built few buildings 
as large. In the ancient books, it is 
called the Empire State.” 

“We are going to it?” asked the boy. 

His father nodded, soberly. 

“More than a hundred years age, he 
said, “our fathers patched the roofs 
and repaired the elevators and equip- 
ped them with power tubes. We have 
preserved the building, for a watch 
tower. From the top of it, you can 
see far into Utopia.” 

The boy caught his breath, when at 
last he looked from the tower. Man- 
hattan Island was a thick green forest, 
unbroken save by the tiny brown spire 
of the obelisk. Wild green covered 
the end of Long Island, and a tip of 
the northward mainland, and a wide 
border beyond the empty river. 

“This was the prison of our 
fathers.” The Chief gestured at the 
green. “Beyond, you can see the 
white towers of the barrier. And be- 
yond them, far off in the distance, you 
can see the buildings of Utopia.” 

Shading his eyes against the Sun’s 
unaccustomed glare, Kran Grekko saw 
the gleam of bright, wide-spaced pyl- 
ons upon a distant hill. He saw bright, 
tiny flecks of ships curving above 
them. 

“That is Utopia.” The voice of 
Chief Soro Grekko was low and grim. 
“The Utopians rule all the world 
above — the world that we should 
justly share — that was denied us, after 
the Oblivion.” 




THE FORTRESS OF UTOPIA 



67 



The boy was following the tiny gay 
ships, in the crystal distance. 

“What was the Oblivion, really. 
Father? You promised to tell me.” 

“We have never understood,” the 
Chief told him. “There is no record 
of it, in all the old books — for the Ob- 
livion stopped the writing of books. 
We know only what our spies have 
learned from the Utopians — and their 
ideas seem twisted and strange and 
filled with curious gaps. 

“To them, in fact, it is almost a re- 
ligion. They believe that something 
about the Old World was mysteri- 
ously evil. And — somehow in conse- 
quence of that evil — the Earth was 
destined to be destroyed by a strange 
Holocaust of fire. 

“But there were four scientist- 
prophets in the Old World — so the 
Utopians believe, though the old 
books say nothing of them — who fore- 
saw this Holocaust. And, to save the 
Earth from it, they caused the Ob- 
livion. 

“What that really was, we have 
never learned. But it caused men 
everywhere to forget the Old World. 
Only the Four remembered. They 
taught the Utopians, and led them out 
of the old cities, and gave them a new 
Law. 

“The Law of the Four forbade any 
men to know the old knowledge, or 
enter the old places. The penalty was 
death. Our fathers were those who 
broke that Law. The Utopians could 
not come into the old places, to kill 
them. But they build the barriers to 
keep us here, and destroy many from 
their towers. 

“The Utopians regard the Four al- 
most as gods — though evidently they 
never claimed to be anything but hu- 
man scientists. They were three men, 
and a beautiful woman. There was a 
legend that they were immortal, and 
would return at intervals to assure the 
Utopians of safety from that Holo- 
caust they had threatened. 

^^'H^TEARLY two hundred years 

1-^1 have passed since they last 
were seen. But still the Utopians ex- 
pect them, and prepare an elaborate 
festival in their honor, every thirty 



years. The Utopians are strange 
people.” 

“They are very fortunate.” The boy 
filled his lungs with cool fresh air 
that was fragrant with the forest be- 
neath, and lifted his face to the Sun. 
“With all the wonders of this world 
above, they should be very happy.” 
“Perhaps they are, but I doubt it,” 
said the Chief. “Men seldom value 
what they have not strived for. Any- 
how” — and his face set grimly — “it 
will not be theirs for long.” 

“Why not?” The boy looked at him, 
wondering. “Is the Holocaust com- 
ing, really.” 

“I know nothing of the Holocaust,” 
rang out the voice of Soro Grekko. 
But we are coming.” 

The boy blinked. “We?” 

“The Utopians have been our ene- 
mies, since the Oblivion,” his father 
told him urgently. “For a hundred 
years and more we have planned 
to burst the barriers they have set 
around us, and make ourselves a place 
in the Sun. 

“Always they have been too strong 
for us. They outnumber us, a thousand 
to one. The Four taught them a 
science that is not in the old books, 
and they have built a great new 
science of their own. 

“I had hoped to lead the attack. I 
now now that I cannot. But you will, 
my son, after you are Chief of the 
Under-men. The dark eyes of Soro 
Grekko shone fiercely. “You will 
crush the Utopians, and lead your peo- 
ple back into the light.” 

“I, Father? But I am so young!” 
“You will grow older,” his father 
told him. “For the task will take you 
many years. But, from this day on- 
ward, you are the conqueror of Utopia. 
You will live for nothing else. Look 
at those bright towers, beyond the 
barrier, and promise me that you will 
take them for the Under-men.” 

The boy’s dark eyes stared for a 
long time at the far-off shining pylons. 
At last he turned, with a sober reflec- 
tion of the Chief’s grimness upon his 
youthful features, and gripped the 
older man’s trembling hand. 

“Father,” he whispered, “I promise 
I will take them.” 



68 



STARTLING STORIES 



CHAPTER XV 
The Eve of the Holocaust 



A SENSE of pressing urgency 
came to Cartwright as he slept. 
The hour had come. Some vague in- 
sistent alarm was sounding in his 
brain. He struggled against strange 
shackles of sleep. 

He tried to move, but a queer stiff 
numbness held his limbs. He tried to 
breathe. But his lungs were filled 
with something sweetish, choking. It 
took him a long time even to open his 
eyes. Finally, when the glued lids 
opened, he saw only an utter darkness. 

A horrible dread seized him. This 
overwhelming darkness could be only 
the darkness of the tomb. It was the 
closeness of his coffin that made the 
air so bad. This frightful silence was 
the silence of the grave. 

Had some hideous slip of circum- 
stance buried him alive? 

Dimly, through the mists that 
fogged his brain, he groped for recol- 
lection. There was something — if 
only he could remember — something 
that would explain — 

Unconsciously, with a painful ten- 
sion of effort, he found himself listen- 
ing. He was straining desperately to 
hear something. To hear, he knew 
suddenly, the ticking of a clock. 

The clock had stopped! 

That fact, somehow, set off a little 
start of terror in him. Still, however, 
he couldn’t think why a clock should 
have been buried with him — or why it 
was terrible that the clock had 
stopped. 

There was something about the 
Moon. Dimly, then, he remembered 
little Delorme’s rocket, falling in the 
rain-forest. For a moment he feared 
that he was still in the rocket, buried 
under some tropical swamp. 

Then he remembered seeing De- 
lorme’s body, with the ants at it. Re- 
membered Captain Drumm — the Pio- 
neer — the Oblivion — the fortress on 
the Moon. Then he was buried — 
under a crater on the Moon ! And the 
clock that had stopped was the one 



that should have waked him in the 
year Two Thousand and Two. 

He fought desperately, as his brain 
cleared, to move. To breathe. A ter- 
rible dry stiffness froze his body. His 
skin felt as if it were flaking off in 
scales. Agony filled his lungs. His 
limbs were dead. 

But he made his fingers, dry and 
withered and lifeless as they were, 
find the stud on the wall at his head. 
Desperately, he pressed it. Light 
blinded his eyes. Fresh air carried 
away that sickening sweetness. 

For a long time he lay still, content 
merely to breathe the good air. At last 
he opened his eyes again. He saw a 
long ragged crack, across the gray 
walls and ceiling of the cell. It must 
have been that crack, allowing the 
sleep-gas to escape, which caused his 
awakening. 

He looked at his hands. They were 
drawn, yellowish, dessicated. He 
touched his face. It felt leathery, 
stiff, dead. A stiff mass of beard 
curled down over his throat. 

How long, he asked himself desper- 
ately, had he slept? Fear was cold in 
him. Hardly an inch of beard, he re- 
called, had grown before in thirty 
years of sleep. 

With a dogged effort, he sat up on 
the bunk. Bones ached dully from the 
movement. His muscles screamed at 
effort. His dry skin felt as if it were 
tearing in rotten strips. Every labor- 
ing rise and fall of his chest was 
agony. 

H E stared at the clock-face on the 
massive door. Its hands indi- 
cated four minutes and thirteen sec- 
onds after midnight, March 18, 1998. 
But that meant nothing, for the clock 
had stopped. 

He swayed to his feet. His dead fin- 
gers managed to open one of the 
sealed water bottles on the little table. 
He rinsed his mouth and gulped the 
reviving fluid and splashed his dry 
body with it. 

Movement and water began to re- 
store his body’s elasticity. He be- 
came aware of a gnawing faintness of 
hunger. Then that was forgotten in 
an impact of shuddering terror. 



THE FORTRESS OF UTOPIA 



69 



Something pretty violent, evidently, 
had happened to the fortress. What 
had it done to the others? To Worth 
and Pat and Captain Drumm? Would 
the doors and the elevator work? Or 
were they all buried alive or dead for- 
ever? 

He stumbled frantically to the door, 
twisted a key, waited trembling for its 
motors to respond. The whirring 
seemed to falter — the door was 
jammed! No, it moved again! At last 
it came open, and he staggered out 
into the narrow corridor before the 
row of vaults. 

Ugly cracks crossed walls and 
vaulted ceiling. The floor was cov- 
ered with dust and fragments of shat- 
tered concrete. And all the clocks in 
the doors of the vaults were stopped 
at that same second, March 18, 1998. 

Cartwright staggered along in front 
of the doors, breaking the little panes 
of glass and pulling the emergency 
levers that would start the mechanism 
to blow out the sleep-gas. He waited, 
swaying weakly, tense with apprehen- 
sion. 

Presently, one by one, the others 
came stumbling out to join him. Cap- 
tain Drumm’s red hair had grown into 
a flaming mop, and his face was hid- 
den by a fiery beard. Mart Worth’s 
pointed Satanic beard was longer. Pat 
Wayland’s skin looked dry, but her 
blond beauty was not greatly changed. 

In a voice curiously stiff and rusty, 
Cartwright told them how he had 
waked, and ended with the fearful 
question : 

“How long have we been sleeping?” 

“Several years, by the look of your 
beard,” observed Martin Worth. He 
blinked at the cracks and the debris. 
“A meteor must have struck the for- 
tress, in 1998, so hard it stopped the 
clocks.” 

“The sleep gas must have leaked out 
of your cell,” said Pat Wayland. 
“When the cylinders were empty, the 
pressure fell. That opened the air- 
valves, automatically. It must have 
taken a long time.” 

“Let’s get out of here,” gasped Cart- 
wright, “and find out how long.” 

“If we can get out,” muttered 
Worth. 



The elevator, however, operated 
without difficulty — only such delicate 
instruments as the clocks had been 
greatly injured. The section of the 
fortress upon the peak seemed scarcely 
damaged. Looking for evidences of 
the meteor, Cartwright could discover 
only one tiny new craterlet, near the 
foot of the mile-high peak. 

“Well, Mr. Astronomer?” he called 
to Mart Worth. “How long would you 
say we’ve been sleeping?” 

There was, curiously, no reply from 
Worth. Cartwright walked toward 
him, around the curving corridor that 
followed the wall of the fortress, and 
found him peering fixedly through 
one of the small northward ports. 

C ARTWRIGHT looked out, beside 
him. The first thing that caught 
his eye was the half-Earth, huge and 
brilliant against the stars. 

“I wonder what has happened 
there?” he whispered. “Is our Utopia 
still — Utopia?” But not yet did 
Worth answer, and Cartwright felt a 
little tremor of alarm. “What do you 
see, Mart?” he demanded. “Can you 
tell how long — ” 

“There!” Worth’s yellow hand 
pointed. “Are you blind?” 

And there, low in the north and be- 
low the Earth, Cartwright saw a vast 
unfamiliar cloud of darkness against 
the stars. It drowned Lyra and Cyg- 
nus and Cepheus, and fell beyond the 
ragged peaks of Arzachel. Dull green 
streaks and whorls shone ominously 
within it. 

“Is that — ” Cartwright’s voice 
failed him; he clutched Worth’s 
shoulder. “Is it — ” 

Worth’s yellow-skinned satanic 
head nodded faintly. 

“It is the nebula. When we went to 
sleep, it was a faint telescopic object 
in Perseus. Now it is spread across 
eighty degrees of the sky. We have 
awakened on the very eve of the Holo- 
caust.” 

“When — ” whispered Cartwright. 
“How long — ” 

Worth shook his head. 

“It is approaching us at seventy 
miles a second. Within a few weeks 
we shall meet the outermost fringes. 



70 



STARTLING STORIES 



Probably it will be two months before 
absorption cuts off the light of the 
Sun completely.” 

“And,” gulped Cartwright, hoarse- 
ly, “then — ” 

“That final night,” said the little as- 
tronomer, “will last a month or two, 
before the light of the meteor-swarms 
brings the dawn of the last day.” He 
made an odd little jerk of his dark- 
bearded head. “I should say that life 
will be possible on the Earth for — at 
the outside — four months longer.” 

“Then,” boomed the voice of Cap- 
tain Drumm, behind them, “here is 
hoping the Utopians have got their 
plans all laid for the safety of the 
Earth !” 

Worth shook his unkempt head. 

“1 doubt very much that they have,” 
he said. “I never knew just what ex- 
actly we hoped for them to do — I was 
never able to see what possible human 
agency would assure escape from the 
nebula. But, at this distance, the 
Earth looks quite unchanged. And it 
is already in the very maw of the 
Holocaust!” 

“Anyhow,” Cartwright said, “we’ll 
soon be on Earth to see.” 

“Not until we’ve eaten,” said Cap- 
tain Drumm, “and soaked a little wa- 
ter into our dessicated bones.” 

“And,” added Pat Wayland, “until 
you’ve done something about those 
awful beards!” 



CHAPTER XVI 
The Children of Utopia 



A S the Pioneer lifted them at last 
above the grim walls of Arzachel 
and the Moon’s dead plains, the full 
dreadful extent of the nebula came 
into view. Standing rigid at the little 
ship’s controls, Cartwright scanned 
its vast green-shot ellipse with an ap- 
prehensive awe. 

“It is somewhat disk-shaped,” said 
Martin Worth, “but tilted so that it 
appears flattened. About sixty billion 
miles in diameter. The Earth will 
strike it somewhat toward the galactic 
pole from the center.” 



He tugged wearily at the point of 
his black beard. 

“Call it a net of death,” he whis- 
pered, “and men the fishes. It is 
sweeping upon us, seventy miles a sec- 
ond. What can we possibly do about 
it?” He shook his head. “Galt hoped 
that, in two centuries, our Utopians 
would be able to turn the trick. But 
I never really believed — ” 

He fell silent. As at last they 
rounded the curve of the Earth, and 
approached the brilliant hazy convex- 
ity of its sunward face, a voiceless 
tensity of expectation held them all. 
What had nearly two centuries done 
to Utopia? 

Cartwright traced the cloud-spot- 
ted outline of North America. 

“It looks just the same,” he whis- 
pered. 

“It will probably look pretty much 
the same,” said Martin Worth, “after 
it has passed through the nebula — 
after the fiery hail of meteors has de- 
stroyed all life on it.” 

Pat Wayland stood peering out at 
the long green-tinged shadow of the 
nebula. Her face was stiff with an 
overwhelming dread, her blue eyes 
huge with fear. From her slack lips 
came a weary whisper : 

“What can men do, against — that?” 
she sighed. “There can be no escape.” 
Suddenly, desperately, Cartwright 
wanted to take her in his arms. He 
wanted to kiss away the terror in her 
eyes, and make her smile again. He 
shrugged, and tried to send his 
thoughts back to the fate of the Earth. 

He knew there was no use dreaming 
of Pat Wayland. 

“We’ll land at Star City,” he an- 
nounced, “and see what’s going on at 
the great observatory there.” 

“If,” added Martin Worth, “there is 
still an observatory there.” 

The convex planet flatted beneath 
them. Star City spread out, flung like 
a jeweled tapestry from the mountains 
to the city. Wheeling the little ship 
above its lofty, far- spaced towers, its 
wide roads and vast airports and well- 
kept parks, Cartwright felt relief. 

“We saw no cities like this, before,” 
he said. “Progress must have carried 
on. Perhaps, after all, they have found 



THE FORTRESS OF UTOPIA 



71 



a way to escape eternal destruction.” 

“Perhaps,” said the cynical Worth. 

The observatory stood upon a trun- 
cated mountain between the city and 
the desert. Long rows of laboratory 
buildings marched across the leveled 
summit, commanded by the mighty 
white dome. 

Cartwright dropped the Pioneer 
into a grassy, tree-dotted court. Deep- 
cut letters in the architrave of a splen- 
did building at the end of it read: 
HALL OF ATOMICS. 

A squirrel chittered on the grass as 
they climbed out of the ship. Fallen 
leaves scattered the walks. The wind 
sighed faintly in the fragrant pines. 

“It’s so quiet!” A faint apprehen- 
sion dropped Cartwright’s voice. “So 
queerly still.” 

“An observatory,” Worth sug- 
gested, “might be busier at night.” 

H ASTENED by a tense anxiety 
Cartwright hurried along the 
walk to the Hall of Atomics. A heavy 
door yielded to his hand. He entered. 
A heavy silence met him. The air was 
dead, heavy with stale chemical odors. 

He went along the great central cor- 
ridor, peering into the doors that 
opened from it. Huge, well-lit labora- 
tory rooms were filled with apparatus 
that was mostly unfamiliar. All of it 
was covered with a heavy film of dusk. 
He went solemnly back to the others, 
who were waiting at the door. 

“There’s nobody — anywhere.” Some- 
thing made him whisper. “It has all 
been abandoned. For years.” He led 
the way back toward the Pioneer. 
“We had better go down to the city, 
and find out what is the matter.” 
“Perhaps,” said Captain Drumm, 
hopefully, “they have advanced so far 
they don’t need laboratories any 
more.” 

Mart Worth grinned sardonically. 
“Perhaps!” 

They were climbing aboard the lit- 
tle ship when suddenly Pat Wayland 
caught her breath and pointed. 
Thrumming softly, the long tapered 
spindle of a geoflexor flier came glid- 
ing down above the deserted build- 
ings. 

The gaily painted craft landed a 



hundred yards away, beside a dancing 
fountain. A little crowd of men and 
women trooped out, laughing. They 
were oddly and brightly clad, in stuff 
that looked like silk. One of them 
strummed a musical instrument, care- 
lessly, while the others spread gay 
cloths under the trees, and brought 
baskets from the flier. 

“Picnicking, in the shadow of 
death,” murmured Martin Worth. 
“They have forgotten the danger of 
the nebula.” 

But Cartwright fancied a keenness 
almost of hysteria in their laughter. 
He caught anxious glances toward the 
northward sky — where the day’s se- 
rene blue hid the black cloud of the 
nebula. 

“Let’s speak to them.” 

He called. The picnickers discov- 
ered the Pioneer, with the four stand- 
ing about the steps. For a moment 
there was an astounded, incredulous 
silence. Then a wild shout: 

“The Four! It is the Four — re- 
turned to save us from the Holo- 
caust !” 

Dropping the baskets, they came 
running to make an awed little ring 
about the Pioneer. Their faces were 
eagerly smiling. They reached out 
trembling, doubtful hands to touch the 
metal of the little ship. 

“You really are the Four?” The 
speaker was an alert, gray-haired man. 
His eyes were burning with a tortured 
anxiety. “Tell us — have you really 
come to save us?” 

“We are the Four,” Cartwright ad- 
mitted. “But there was never any- 
thing that we could do about the Holo- 
caust. We only hoped that our efforts 
would enable men to save them- 
selves.” 

He searched the Utopian’s taut face 
and asked: 

“Have we failed?” 

The Utopian slowly shook his gray 
head, and the brightness of hope upon 
his face gave way to a weary despair. 

“I’m afraid,” he whispered, “that we 
have all failed.” He made a tired ges- 
ture, to include the laboratory build- 
ings, and the mighty dome of the ob- 
servatory. “Once I worked here,” he 
said, “before the laboratory was 



72 



STARTLING STORIES 



closed. I was an assistant to Essen- 
dee, the great atomic physicist. Once, 
I remember, he told me he had seen 
a ray of hope. But — ” 

The Utopian made a weary little 
shrug of defeat. 

^WJSJTHAT was the matter?” Cart- 
ww wright demanded. “What 
made you fail?” 

“Our philosophers still argue over 
that,” said the Utopian. “But I believe 
the truth is simple enough. In the 
first two centuries very little was done 
— merely because men who expected 
to die before he arrival of the Holo- 
caust felt little interest in it. It was 
difficult for men to assume responsi- 
bility for posterity. And the failure 
of the Four to return, as you had 
promised, was a discouraging factor.” 

Cartwright nodded. 

“We didn’t disappoint you inten- 
tionally. But go on.” 

“Thirty or forty years ago,” the 
Utopian said, “when men began to 
realize that the Holocaust would ar- 
rive within their own lifetimes, there 
was a sudden spurt of advancement. A 
hundred outstanding scientists ap- 
peared. Too late. 

“You understand the appalling diffi- 
culty of the problem of averting the 
nebula collision. From whatever 
angle it is attacked, the obstacles are 
stupendous. And — so it has always 
seemed to me — the Utopian tempera- 
ment was poorly fitted to cope with 
them.” 

“How do you mean?” asked Cart- 
wright. 

The gray Utopian made a gesture in 
the direction of the unseen metropolis 
below. 

“You saw Star City? All the cities 
of Utopia are like that. They are 
beautiful. All ugliness, all pain, all 
strife, have been eliminated. All men 
work together, for the good of all. 

“That, I believe, is the plan that the 
Four made for Utopia. It was a good 
plan, good in itself. But sometimes 
our philosophers have suspected that 
it left out something, made life too 
automatic, too easy. I don’t wish to 
criticize — ” 

“That’s all right,” Cartwright said. 



“What you say may be quite true.” 

The gray man nodded, soberly. 

“I know it is. Since we abandoned 
the laboratories, I have made a gar- 
den. There I have seen how culti- 
vated plants breed out. They become 
weak, easy prey for drouth and 
blights. Ever and again we must start 
anew, with a hybrid strain crossed 
from plants that have been toughened 
by a harder struggle to survive.” 

“You say,” Cartwright demanded, 
“that you abandoned the laboratories? 
Why?” 

Dread stiffened the Utopian’s face. 

“That was nearly twenty years ago,” 
he whispered. “Until then, we had 
hope. Essendee believed that he had 
found a way.” He stared at the great 
silent buildings, and shook his head. 
“We might have beaten the Holo- 
caust.” 

“Well?” insisted Cartwright. “What 
stopped you?” 

“The Vanishings,” said the Utopian. 



CHAPTER XVII 
Terror by Night 



C ARTWRIGHT peered in aston- 
ishment at the gray Utopian. 
“Vanishings?” he echoed. “What 
do you mean?” 

The Utopian shook his head. 

“The Vanishings are a mystery that 
we have never solved,” he said. “About 
twenty years ago, the best of our 
scientists began to disappear from 
their laboratories. Apparatus, books, 
and notes were taken, too. 

“The Vanishings always happened 
at night. They kept on happening, in 
spite of all we could do. Scientists 
were taken from under the noses of 
armed guards, and out of locked roms. 
We set various scientific traps, with 
invisible rays and such, in vain. 

“Queerly, the scientists who were 
taken were almost, invariably those 
working on the problem of escaping 
the Holocaust. Essendee himself 
escaped, after a battle with an uniden- 
tified midnight intruder in this very 
observatory. But practically every 



THE FORTRESS OF UTOPIA 



73 



other man who had accomplished any- 
thing at all toward saving the Earth, 
was abducted.” 

Cartwright was staring at him. 

“A very strange story,” he muttered. 

“It was incredible to us, at first,” 
said the Utopian. “For there had been 
no crime in Utopia. Every person has 
his own secure place in the commun- 
ity, and all his education is directed to 
make him fit that place. There is no 
need for crime. 

“We had no police organization, 
here in Star City, until the Vanishings 
began. Then we organized a force. 
They did their best, first to protect 
the scientists and then to find what 
had become of them. But all efforts 
failed. And at last our observatories 
and laboratories were all abandoned, 
just for the want of able men to carry 
on.” 

“Queer,” muttered Cartwright. 
“Very queer!” 

“Now,” said the Utopian — whose 
name, he told them, was Arro Four- 
nine — “will you come down into Star 
City? We must tell Utopia that the 
Four have returned. Your presence 
will give people courage to await the 
Holocaust.” 

Assenting, Cartwright brought the 
Utopian aboard the Pioneer. At his 
direction, they landed the little ship 
upon a great pillar in one of the city’s 
vast parks. 

“This is the Pier of the Four,” said 
Arro Fournine. “It was made ready 
for you, one hundred and fifty years 
ago.” 

Above the platform towered a huge 
stone likeness of the Pioneer, a hun- 
dred feet in diameter. Their statues 
stood in a colossal group beside it, 
giants towering forty feet tall. 

A gay-clad, joyously shouting 
throng was pouring into the park. 
Cheers rolled, wave on wave of sound, 
against the great pillar. At last the 
thousands grew silent, waiting for the 
Four to speak. 

Cartwright made a halting and un- 
comfortable little talk. He regretted 
the failure of the Four to return when 
they had promised. He was sorry that 
the Utopians had failed to do anything 
about the Holocaust. The time was 



now very short. He was not hopeful. 
But the Four would see what, if any- 
thing, could be done. 

Silent now, the Utopians began to 
disperse. 

“Trying to start a panic?” inquired 
Captain Drumm, standing beside the 
Pioneer. 

ffWT'S time they faced the facts,” 
JhL Cartwright said. “Doesn’t it 
seem to you that they are sort of child- 
like and naive? Their world has been 
too perfect for their own good. Life 
has been too easy for them. They have 
never learned to face realities. When 
this supreme danger comes along, they 
haven’t been trained to meet it. They 
just give up, appalled at their own 
helplessness.” 

He looked at the tense faces of 
Drumm and Worth and Pat Wayland. 

“Is there anything that we can do — 
anything at all?” 

The girl shook her platinum head. 

“I don’t know of anything.” 

Cartwright turned to Worth. 

“Would any sort of ark be possible, 
to carry men to some planet of another 
star?” 

The little astronomer tugged at his 
pointed black beard. 

“That is probably our only possible 
chance,” he said. “And it is fantas- 
tically slender. It would be very diffi- 
cult to build any sort of interstellar 
ship, in the few months of time now 
left to us, and even if we had the best 
ship we can design, ready to take off 
today, the chances are that it would 
itself be overtaken by the nebula be- 
fore it could build up sufficient vel- 
ocity to escape.” 

“But,” insisted Cartwright, “is it 
possible?” 

“Barely possible,” admitted Mart 
Worth. “But, even if men did escape 
in an ark of space, where would they 
go? Probably only one star in a hun- 
dred thousand has any planets at all. 
Perhaps one planet in a hundred 
thousand happens to meet the condi- 
tions for human life.” 

He shrugged, hopelessly. 

“What ship could visit a hundred 
thousand stars?” 

“Still,” persisted Cartwright, “we’ve 



74 



STARTLING STORIES 



simply got to go on and try some- 
thing.” 

“Before we plan anything definite,” 
said Martin Worth, “I want to study 
the nebula from the observatory here. 
A great deal of it, you remember, was 
below the horizon from the citadel.” 

He called to the gray-haired Utop- 
ian, who was standing at a little dis- 
tance, and asked : 

“Will you help us use the great 
observatory tonight?” 

The thin face of Arro Fournine 
turned pale, and he made an anxious 
gesture of protest. 

“I told you about the Vanishings. 
We don’t use the observatory any 
more. It is safe enough by day. But, 
at night — ” 

His voice trailed off, huskily, and 
his fingers twisted nervously. 

“I must make the observations,” 
Worth insisted, “to find out how long 
we have. And, as for any mysterious 
haunters — ” 

All the V’s of his face sharpened 
to the old cynical grin. 

“After all,” Captain Drumm told the 
frightened Utopian, “we are the Four. 
I think we can take care of ourselves. 
But we need you, to show us the way 
about.” 

They were staring at the Utopian. 

“I’ll go with you,” he said at last. 
“For the sake of Utopia.” He shrug- 
ged, unhappily. “I can see that you 
are skeptical of what I have told you. 
I only hope that your skepticism is 
not rudely shattered.” 

T HE red sun was setting when the 
Pioneer dropped them again amid 
the majestic buildings upon the lev- 
eled mountain top. They came off 
into the silent, neglected grounds. Pat 
Wayland shivered to the chill of eve- 
ning in the air. Worth pointed, 
solemnly, at the sunset-red upon the 
huge white dome. 

“The first warning,” he said softly. 
“What do you mean?” asked Cart- 
wright. 

“The first tenuous wisp of the ne- 
bula must have already touched us,” 
said Martin Worth. “There is a slow 
accumulation of microscopic dust 
motes in the upper atmosphere. They 



absorb the violet end of the spectrum. 
Today, a red sunset.” His voice 
dropped to an ominous whisper. “To- 
morrow, a rain of fire.” 

Arro Fournine kept anxiously close 
to them, as they entered the great 
dusky buildings. The air was heavy, 
musty. Dust lay thick. The silence 
became terrible to Cartwright. It be- 
came as appalling as the dead stillness 
of the Moon. He started to tiny mock- 
ing echoes. 

They came at last into the huge 
dome that covered the main telescope. 
Arro Fournine, in a dry nervous voice, 
explained the few novel features of 
the equipment to Martin Worth. 

Electric motors opened the slit in 
the dome. As it turned slowly toward 
the north, the red of sunset gave way 
to the dim shadow of the nebula. 

Cartwright touched Worth’s arm. 

“An odd thing,” he commented. 
“There was dust everywhere in the 
halls. But you notice there is none 
in here.” 

The little astronomer nodded, tug- 
ging in a puzzled way at his pointed 
beard. 

“So I noticed,” he whispered, “It 
is odd, too, that the telescope operates 
perfectly. The oil is not gummed in 
the motors, there is no rust, the mir- 
ror still has an excellent polish.” 

His whisper sank lower still. 

“You would almost believe,” he 
added, “that the observatory has been 
in constant use !” His dark hollow eyes 
shot an uneasy glance at Arro Four- 
nine. “We shall see what we shall 
see.” 

Worth climbed to the observer’s 
seat at the side of the great tube. The 
Utopian took his place at the switch- 
board from which lights and motors 
were controlled. Armed with the 
little paralysis guns, Pat Wayland and 
Captain Drumm and Cartwright 
moved watchfully about the vast floor. 

Night fell without. The ominous 
red afterglow faded at last. The bale- 
ful darkness of the nebula thickened 
against the northward constellations, 
touched eerily here and there with 
green. 

As the hours passed, Cartwright 
could not protect himself from a 



THE FORTRESS OF UTOPIA 



75 



mounting fear. He tried not to be- 
lieve the Utopian’s queer story about 
the vanishings. It seemed quite in- 
credible. The truth, he tried to tell 
himself, was that these oddly child- 
like people were hysterical with ter- 
ror. Probably some of their scientists 
had merely abandoned a task that 
looked hopeless, had run away to 
escape responsibility. And the story 
had grown with twenty years. 

He shook his head, in the thick 
gloom that filled the observatory. 
Even that didn’t fit. Nothing did. 
There was some missing factor, whose 
absence made the whole thing seem a 
little insane. 

H E wanted to whistle, to break that 
terrible silence. He paced the 
stone floor of the great dome rest- 
lessly, peering vainly into its vast 
dark spaces. Then silence abruptly be- 
came mad confusion. 

Pat Wayland made a little gasping 
cry. Captain Drumm bellowed a 
shout, and his paralysis gun began to 
ping. The Utopian screamed. The 
lights went out. Yellow flame spurted 
against the darkness, and gunshots re- 
verberated against the dome. 

Cartwright heard a dry rustling 
near him. He thought he glimpsed a 
gray shapeless shadow moving. He 
flung up the paralysis gun. But, be- 
fore he could fire, a dazzling blue light 
flashed in his eyes, and left him blind. 

“Jay!” Terror edged Pat’s warning 
cry. “Behind you!” 

He spun. His ears caught some 
little slither of sound, and he swung 
his fist at it. The blow met nothing. 
Flung forward by the force of it, he 
tripped over something small. His 
head struck the floor, dazingly. 

“Jay — Mart — Cap!” Pat Wayland’s 
muffled voice became a scream. 
“They’ve got—” 

It ceased, abruptly. 

“The lights!” shouted Cartwright. 
He found the switchboard, snapped on 
the dim, shaded electrics. Vaguely 
they showed the huge interior of the 
dome, the massive telescope. Captain 
Drumm was standing near the base of 
it, nolding the smoking automatic that 
he had dragged out of a shoulder hol- 



ster. Martin Worth was still in his 
lofty seat. 

But Pat Wayland was gone. 

“You, Fournine!” shouted Cart- 
wright. “Where—” 

He realized abruptly that the Utop- 
ian had vanished also. 



CHAPTER XVIII 
The Ark of Space 



A lertly gripping their weapons, 
they scattered over the vast floor 
of the dim-lit dome, searching. Cart- 
wright peered into shadows under the 
great telescope. He tried half a dozen 
doors, that all were locked. At last 
the three came back into an apprehen- 
sive little group. 

“Not a clue!” muttered Cartwright. 
“I don’t see what could have become 
of them.” 

Little Martin Worth pointed at the 
slit in the great dome, that looked out 
toward the green-shot darkness of the 
nebula. 

“There’s a hole you could fly the 
Pioneer through.” 

Drumm’s red head shook. 

“We should have seen the shadow 
against the nebula.” Slowly he re- 
placed his heavy automatic in the hol- 
ster under his shirt. “I didn’t quite 
trust that Fournine guy,” he said. 
“There was something fishy about his 
story of the vanishings.” 

“I thought I saw a gray thing mov- 
ing,” Cartwright said. “And somebody 
flashed a blue light in my eyes. It 
might have been our Utopian friend, 
I suppose — if he had a secret exit.” 
He shook his head. 

“Anyhow, Pat’s gone — that’s what 
matters.” 

For a little time they simply stood 
there, looking at one another. 
Drumm’s bronzed face, usually so 
ruddy and cheerful, looked pale and 
grim. The sardonic sparkle was gone 
from Worth’s dark eyes. He was tug- 
ging moodily at his beard. 

Cartwright was hardly conscious of 
the stiffness of his own face, the trem- 
bling of his lip, until Worth looked 



76 



STARTLING STORIES 



at him with a twisted grin on his nar- 
row satanic face. 

“Cheer up, Jay,” urged the little as- 
tronomer. “After all, we’ve none of 
us got more than three months to live, 
before the nebula bakes the Earth like 
an apple. Maybe Pat is the lucky 
one.” 

At the break in his voice, Cart- 
wright made a bitter little laugh. 

“You look solemn enough yourself. 
Mart,” he said. “Funny thing. Here 
we’re all on the edge of tears. But, if 
we ever see Pat again, all we’ll get will 
be some crack sharp enough to cut 
your heart open.” 

Drumm stiffened angrily. 

“Maybe — but that is just Pat’s way.” 
He peered away again, into the dim-lit 
spaces of the dome. He listened, and 
shook his red head wearily. “What 
could have taken her?” 

Cartwright saw the gleam of a tear, 
falilng into Worth’s black beard. The 
little astronomer shook himself, an- 
grily. 

“We’ve got enough else to worry 
about,” he said softly, with a weary 
little gesture toward the green-and- 
black of the nebula. “My observations 
were pretty well complete — and we 
have somewhat less time than I had 
thought.” 

“How—” 

A sudden aching constriction 
choked off Cartwright’s voice. For all 
the malice mingled with her sweet- 
ness, he knew he loved Pat Wayland. 
Fear for her was a cold sickness in 
him. But he tried resolutely to thrust 
her blond loveliness out of his mind. 

“How long have we?” 

“It will probably be less than a 
month before the radiation of the Sun 
is cut off completely,” Worth said 
softly. “Then it will get cold. I don’t 
know how cold. Perhaps the air won’t 
free2e. The cold will last perhaps an- 
other month — the time depends upon 
the local condensations we strike. 

HEN the rain of meteors will 
end that final night. They will 
burn the oxygen out of the atmos- 
phere, and boil away the seas, and bat- 
ter down the continents — but we won’t 
be here to see it.” 



“Then we have perhaps two months 
to do — whatever we can do.” 

Worth nodded. “Probably no more. 
Perhaps less.” He grinned a mirth- 
less grin. “That’s doubtless long 
enough for all that we can do.” 

“We’ve got to try,” Cartwright said. 
“We’re not Utopians. First we’ll do 
whatever we can about Pat — make a 
search outside, and report what hap- 
pened to the Utopian authorities — ” 
“Which,” Worth put in cynically, 
“should help a lot.” 

“Then,” Cartwright went on, “I 
want to get in touch with the best of 
the surviving Utopian scientists — our 
missing friend said, I believe, that this 
Essendee escaped. We’ll discus what- 
ever plan they can offer, add our own 
knowledge, and see what can be done.” 
They found the Utopian scientist, 
the next day, at his cottage in the 
Alps. A thin bent sharp-eyed man, 
whose beard was the gray replica of 
Worth’s, he was sitting over a chess- 
board. He moved a white piece, and 
the black moved automatically. 

He rose stiffly to greet them. 

“For twenty years,” he told them, 
“ever since I gave up building the ark, 
I’ve been working on this.” He 
touched the board, and shook his bald 
brown head. “Still I can give it three 
pieces, and win.” 

“So you had planned an ark?” said 
Cartwright. “Why did you give it 
up?” 

“You know how hopeless it is to 
seek another habitable planet. The 
only hope seemed to lie in building a 
vessel large enough to be a little 
world, itself, in which our little col- 
ony could survive indefinitely — until 
perhaps the Earth, some centuries 
after its passage through the nebula, 
might cool and become habitable 
again.” 

"Yes — but what was the difficulty?” 
“We failed to find any source of 
power that would move so large 
a craft,” said Essendee. His bald head 
shook, wearily. “Our copper-cathode 
power tubes are quite inadequate, even 
for interplanetary flight. I was at 
work on a gold-cathode tube, at the 
time the Vanishings began. That 
promised to succeed — but for the 




THE FORTRESS OF UTOPIA 



77 



scarcity of sufficient gold here in 
Utopia.” 

“I think we can find gold — if your 
tubes will work,” Cartwright said. “It 
was the Vanishings, then, that caused 
your abandonment of the project.” 

The aged Utopian nodded. 

“All my ablest fellow workers were 
taken,” he said. “All my efforts to 
find them failed. A panic spread 
among the few who were left. They 
fled from the laboratories. I could do 
nothing alone. And I — I was also 
afraid.” 

His hollow eyes stared at him. 

“Can you comprehend the meaning 
of it? Men who have worked beside 
you for years whisked away without a 
trace. No clue anywhere. The grow- 
ing belief that you are being mocked 
by some totally unknown and far su- 
perior science. The ghastly feeling of 
a secret and unescapable surveillance. 
The growing conviction that you are 
going to be next.” 

The old voice cracked. 

“Finally, one night, I was attacked. 
I escaped — and quit.” 

“But now you will help us design 
and build an ark?” 

Essendee nodded gravely. 

WILL,” he said. “I believe that 
*■ every Utopian will rally to your 
aid — unless, as some believe, the Van- 
ishings are the work of a secret so- 
ciety who have set out to overturn 
the Law of the Four.” 

He pushed aside the chessboard. 
“Well,” Cartwright said, “we had 
better begin at once.” 

“I suggest,” boomed Captain 
Drumm, “that we begin drawing up 
the preliminary plans tonight, and 
also set about getting the official ma- 
chinery in motion, to supply men and 
transportation and materials.” 

“And I,” said Martin Worth, “sug- 
gest that we build the ark somewhere 
in Antarctica. Cold there, perhaps. 
But in a few weeks all the Earth will 
be colder. And, since the Earth will 
strike the nebula north pole-first, the 
southern regions will be more or less 
protected from stray meteors — though 
it will be uncomfortable enough, even 
there, after the atmosphere becomes 



incandescent.” 

“Good idea,” Cartwright agreed. 
“Now, shall we begin with the plans?” 
He caught the furtive glance of the 
little Utopian scientist, and saw the 
haunted look within his hollow eyes. 
He knew that the Vanishings were 
still as terrible, to Essendee, as the 
on-rushing Holocaust. 

T HREE days later, Cartwright and 
Captain Drumm, aboard the Pi- 
oneer, led a little fleet of Utopian geo- 
flexor fliers to Antarctica. A site was 
selected for the ark of space, upon a 
bleak mountain ridge, within ten de- 
grees of the pole. 

In the warming rays of huge heat- 
ers fed from banks of copper-cathode 
tubes — for this was June, the middle 
of the polar night — ten thousand men, 
under the brisk orders of Captain 
Drumm, began leveling the ridge and 
building the mile-long foundation for 
the ark. 

Worth remained in Utopia, complet- 
ing the plans. Already, all the mills 
and foundries of three continents were 
busy, turning out plates and girders 
for the tremendous metal cylinder that 
might become the second home of 
man. An endless line of great geo- 
flexor freighters brought them to the 
great illuminated yard on the desert of 
ice. 

Cartwright accepted the task of 
finding fuel for the ark. He went 
through a simple ceremony, to amend 
a certain section of the Law of the 
Four. Then he led a crew to a low, 
grass-covered mound in what once had 
been Kentucky. 

The defenses that a nation had built 
to guard its buried hoard proved stub- 
born. For endless weeks, with the ap- 
palling green-lit cloud of the nebula 
growing larger in the sky night by 
night, Cartwright’s crews drilled and 
blasted. At last the reluctant earth 
yielded its reclaimed treasure. 

Cartwright returned to Antarctica 
in the Pioneer, carrying a barge loaded 
with a thousand tons of yellow in- 
gots. Arching high above the atmos- 
phere, he saw a new and ominous 
halo of crimson about the Sun. He 
was glad to see that the long hull of 



78 



STARTLING STORIES 



the ark, lying in the glare of a thou- 
sand great searchlights, looked almost 
complete. 

Captain Drumm and Mart Worth, 
however, when he found them leaning 
over blueprints in a bare little wooden 
shack in the shadow of the ark, looked 
worried. 

“Well, we opened Fort Knox like 
an oyster,” he said. “We’ve got the 
gold. What’s the matter now?” 

Little Worth tugged soberly at his 
black beard. 

HINGS aren’t going so well,” 
he confessed, and then asked 
hopefully, “You didn’t find out any- 
thing more — about Pat?” 

Cartwright shook his head. 

“I went back three times to Star 
City. The Utopian authorities haven’t 
found out anything — and don’t expect 
to. I made a gang of them turn the 
observatory upside down, all over 
again. We didn’t find a thing. But 
what’s the matter here?” 

Captain Drumm shook his red head. 
“It’s these damned Utopians.” His 
great bronzed fists made an angry ges- 
ture. “They drive you mad.” 

“What’s the trouble with them? 
They seem willing enough.” 

“Too damned willing,” muttered 
Captain Drumm. “That’s the trouble. 
They have no aggressiveness, no inde- 
pendence. When any difficulty comes 
up, they don’t don’t set their chins and 
tackle it. They smile and wait for 
somebody to help them. Give me a 
gang of Old World rough-necks — and 
damn your Utopians.” 

“Just what is the situation?” 

“The way things are going,” Mart 
Worth said, “it will take us at least 
five more weeks to complete the hull, 
install the geodes and power plants, 
provision the ark, bring aboard our 
selected colonists and the animals we 
shall try to save, and take off. 

“We’ve time enough to do all that. 
We can get away from Earth, all right. 
The danger will come afterwards.” 
“Afterwards?” 

“When we take off,” Worth said, 
“the ark will still have a velocity of 
nearly seventy miles a second, with 
reference to the nebula. It is so large 



that it will take a long time, even with 
the gold-cathode power tubes, to ab- 
sorb that momentum and turn back to- 
ward safety. “Too long, I’m afraid.” 

The little astronomer made a weary 
shrug. Then his dark hollow eyes fast- 
ened upon Cartwright’s face with a 
peculiar intensity. 

“However,” he said softly, “there is 
another possibility.” 

Cartwright met his searching stare, 
wondering. 

“What is that?” 

“From my telescopic studies of the 
nebula,” Worth said, “I suspect that 
the edges of it separate into spiral 
arms. Between those arms, there are 
doubtless rifts. Even if we lack time 
to get completely out of the path of 
the nebula, we might reach one of 
those rifts — if we had the rifts mapped 
out.” 

Cartwright nodded, slowly. 

“I see. And I’m to do the map- 
ping.” 

“That, of course, is up to you. I 
can’t very well leave the job of design- 
ing the geodes. I’m afraid that their 
installation wouldn’t progress very 
fact, without Drumm to boss the job. 
And it is the sort of thing that your 
Utopian simply wouldn’t care to 
tackle.” 

“Of course I’ll go,” Cartwright 
said. 

Captain Drumm gripped his hand. 

“I knew you would,” he said. “And 
I almost envy you.” His bronzed face 
smiling wistfully. “Whether you ever 
get back or not, it will be the greatest 
flight a man ever made. Damn these 
Utopians!” 

^WfcRUMM tried to talk himself 
-U into the job.” Worth grinned, 
grew sober again. “You had better 
spend a couple of days overhauling 
the Pioneer,” he said. We have built 
a set of gold-cathode tubes to be in- 
stalled instead of the old silver ones — 
they will nearly double her power. 
The star-cameras are ready. 

“The thing is to fly straight out in 
the ecliptic plane, toward the present 
position of Saturn. About eight days 
of acceleration and eight more of de- 
celeration. That will put you a little 




THE FORTRESS OF UTOPIA 



79 



beyond Jupiter’s orbit. 

“Expose the plates there. And then 
come back — if you can. If you make 
it, that will take another sixteen days. 
By that time, the ark ought to be done. 
You can tell us whether a passage ex- 
ists — or whether we ought to be call- 
ing it an oven, instead of an ark.” 



CHAPTER XIX 
Into the Nebula 



M ARTIN WORTH gripped Cart- 
wright’s hand. Two days had 
gone. Equipped with the new power 
tubes, the big star-camera installed 
the Pioneer was ready to fly. Little 
Worth tried to grin his old sardonic 
grin. 

“All right, Jay,” he said softly. 
“And don’t expose all your plates with 
the slide still over them.” 

Cartwright laughed at the catch in 
his voice, and felt a sudden little ache 
in his own throat. He turned to Cap- 
tain Drumm. Splendid in his crimson 
and gold braid, Drumm saluted 
briskly. 

“So long,” Jay,” he said. “Don’t 
run into any asteroids.” 

Cartwright saw the gleam in his blue 
eyes, saw him turn and cough. He 
climbed hastily into the little metal 
egg of the Pioneer, and shut the mas- 
sive valve behind him. 

The geodes thrummed, and the lit- 
tle ship lifted above the ark of space. 
Bathed in a lake of blue light, the 
mile-long craft lay amid the glaciers. 
The wind-whipped clouds of an 
Antarctic blizzard obscured it, and 
the geoflexor mounted into space. 

The appalling green-lined shadow 
of the nebula came again into view. 
The Earth contracted to a circle of 
darkness, against the stars. It’s at- 
mosphere was a ring of crimson, that 
wavered and leapt as if the fire of the 
nebula were already consuming it. 

The Sun, when at last it crept into 
view beside the receding earth, was 
surrounded with a wide halo of blood- 
red light. The strangeness of it made 
him shudder with an invincible ap- 



prehension of the inescapable doom. 

The drum of the geodes faltered ab- 
ruptly. A dead pocket. With the old 
deft skill he skirted it, kept the geodes 
in mesh, and escaped its treacherous 
boundaries. 

As the ship’s chronometer ticked 
away the dragging hours, Cartwright 
stared often, in an appalled unwilling 
fascination, at the nebula. It resem- 
bled an angry thundercloud. Here it 
shone dimly with the eerie green that 
once was thought to betray a new ele- 
ment, “nebulium.” There, another 
mass was black against the green. The 
vanishing stars, at the advencing 
edges of it, all turned feebly red. 

No motion of it was perceptible to 
the eye. Yet, as time crept away, he 
could see that boiling currents had 
changed the ominous outlines of it. 
He could never forget that it was 
plunging to engulf the solar system, 
seventy miles a second. 

Often, too, in those endless hours 
that grew into eternal days, he 
thought of Pat Wayland. Her bland 
blue-eyed baby-face dwelt in his mind. 
Her platinum hair was a bright web' 
that meshed his thoughts. The sweet 
malice of her smile haunted his 
dreams. 

Vainly, he tried to forget her. 

“Pat’s just an adding machine,” he 
tried to tell himself, “with an uncom- 
fortable sense of humor and a stream- 
lined case.” 

But he knew that was a lie. He had 
glimpsed the real, aching humanity of 
the girl. He couldn’t help a deep pity 
for whatever cruel experience had 
made her what she was. And he could 
never forget that he loved her. 

A THOUSAND times he reviewed 
the evening in the great observa- 
tory, when she had vanished. He ran 
over a hundred fantastic solutions to 
the mystery — invisible men, cables let 
down through the slit in the dome, 
some unspeakable duplicity on the 
part of Arro Fournine — and knew 
they were all fantastic. 

He knew that he wanted — even 
more than he wanted to save his own 
life — to find Pat Wayland, somehow, 
before the Holocaust should drown 



80 



STARTLING STORIES 



the Earth in the fire of eternal holo- 
caust. 

“Even,” he muttered to himself, 
“though there would probably be a 
dash of poison in the honey of her 
thanks.” 

Arching out to southward of the 
ecliptic plane, where collision with 
the cosmic debris of the asteroid belt 
would be less probable, he locked the 
Pioneer upon the controls. Twenty 
hours had passed since the take-off, 
when he lay down on one of the long 
seats and pulled a blanket over him. 

And still he couldn’t sleep. A fear 
of meteors haunted him. The ship was 
armored with two inches of good steel. 
But he couldn’t forget that a missile 
striking it with twenty or forty times 
the velocity of a rifle bullet, would 
carry four hundred or sixteen hun- 
dred times the energy. A nickel-iron 
fragment the size of a walnut — 

He shut his eyes, and turned over. 

He woke with a start, trembling and 
tense. He had dreamed that a ragged 
gigantic boulder was plunging out of 
the lurid green-black curtains of the 
nebula, while he struggled desperately 
with the controls of the Pioneer. 

“Melodramatic,” he whispered to 
himself. “At thirty miles a second, it 
could be the size of a barn, and still 
you’d never see what hit you.” 

When he woke again, clutching out 
in frantic alarm, the bunk had dropped 
away from him. The blanket cush- 
ioned his impact against the top of 
the hull, but he was sick with the 
vertigo of an endless fall. 

The reek of burning insulation 
somehow cleared his dizzy brain. This 
was a dead pocket. The pilotless ship 
had plunged into the heart of it. Now 
the geodes were burning up with their 
unspent power. 

He snatched at a handrail, pulled 
himself desperately forward. The ship 
spun about him. Now and then the 
fields seemed to mesh unevenly for an 
instant, setting it to whirling in a new 
direction. 

But he reached the controls. Cut 
the power. Waited for the heated 
coils to cool, for momentum to help 
carry the ship out of danger. Then 
carefully he returned the coils, inched 



the power open as the ship crossed the 
pocket. 

At last the geodes were thrumming 
again, with a full strong note. The 
ship was off her course, plunging 
straight into the nebula’s green-shot 
heart. He pulled it back toward the 
tawny fleck of Saturn. 

After a few minutes, sure that the 
dead pocket was safely behind, he 
opened the little cabinet that served as 
a galley, and poured steaming coffee 
from a thermos jug. His hands still 
trembled. Evidently, the flight was 
going to be no picnic. 

H E had not anticipated much trou- 
ble from the dead pockets. 
Worth’s latest theory connected them 
with sun-spots, and he believed that 
they occurred only in the vicinity of 
strong gravitational fields. 

Perhaps, he began to suspect, the 
approach of the nebula had some con- 
nection with them. For, as the days 
went by, their appalling interruptions 
became more and more frequent. 

He had to sleep. Yet he could never 
leave the controls without the haunt- 
ing fear that the geodes would be 
burned out, while the ship spun help- 
less in some dead pocket, before he 
could shut off the power. 

That would be the end. Not only 
for himself alone, but for Martin 
Worth and Captain Drumm and the 
ark of space — the end for all. He 
thought of Pat Wayland. 

At last the Pioneer came to rest, 
nearly half a billion miles from Earth. 
Preparing to expose the plates in the 
big star-camera, Cartwright was ap- 
palled at sight of the nebula. 

It had spread to hide all the north- 
ern constellations. Lurid green shone 
beyond the black masses of it, like 
sinister lightning. The spiral arms of 
it reached out like hideous limbs, 
groping for the stars. 

But he saw a pale reddish speck, in 
the midst of its green-black clouds, 
and voiced a hoarse little cry of ela- 
tion. For that speck was Vega, shin- 
ing through the nebula! It was a bea- 
con, in the passage that Worth had 
hoped he would discover. 

Whistling happily against the res- 



THE FORTRESS OF UTOPIA 



81 



onance of the hull, he finished expos- 
ing the plates, and turned the Pio- 
neer back toward the tiny, red-veiled 
Sun. His tune was interrupted by an 
appalling, deafening crash. 

As the reverberation of the hull 
died away, he listened with ringing 
ears for the fatal hiss of air escaping. 
There was none. But that meteor, as 
he soon discovered, had been but one 
of the swarms that had strayed ahead 
of the nebula. 

Ever and again, as he drove the Pio- 
neer back toward the Earth, the hull 
rang alarmingly. Standing hour by 
hour at the curving control board, it 
was difficult to keep his mind from 
a grim mathematics of life and death. 

For the velocity of the ship was in- 
creasing, at full acceleration. That 
meant the same thing, as regards the 
probability of collision, as a vast in- 
crease in its length — besides making 
every collision far more dangerous. 

The dead pockets, too, were ever 
more frequent. Ever and again, doz- 
ing over the controls, he woke-to find 
himself being tossed about the madly 
spinning ship, the air reeking with 
smoke from the hot coils. 

At last he reached the midpoint of 
the return, and gratefully began de- 
celeration. 

The nebula was all about him, now. 
The Sun still burned feebly through 
it, a dull, blood-red disk. But all the 
stars, even in the south, were blotted 
out. And he began to be tormented 
by a fear that even the Sun would be 
hidden — that he would be lost in the 
nebula, without any familiar point of 
reference. 

He was thin and jumpy with fa- 
tigue. His yellow hair was unkempt. 
A new stubble of straw-colored beard 
covered his hollow face. His eyes were 
red and sunken. He began to feel that 
he would gladly give all his chance 
to escape the nebula, just for a peace- 
ful sleep. 

A S the dim Sun grew back to nor- 
mal size, however, a fierce ela- 
tion mounted in him. He was coming 
through, with the precious plates. He 
had found the path of safety. He had 
done his job. 



He found the Earth. To Sunward 
of him, its thin half-circle was dim in 
the haze of the nebula. It was red 
with an appalling light. Crescent of 
crimson fire. He couldn’t help a shud- 
der, staring at it. For it was doomed. 

Yes, whatever happened the Earth 
was doomed. Even if the ark of space, 
by some miracle of good fortune, car- 
ried its little colony to some other 
habitable planet, there could be only a 
half-life waiting for them. 

For man was part of Earth. For 
millions upon millions of years, life 
had been shaped and patterned to the 
days and the seasons, the winds and 
the tides, to every smallest aspect of 
this planet that was home. Man, Cart- 
wright knew, would fit no other. 

He was staring, in a kind of bleak 
apathy, at that dim red crescent be- 
low the nearer crescent of the Moon. 
He tried to rouse himself, to recover 
his lost elation. Only half a million 
miles to go. Only five hours — 

Then the meteor struck. 

The concussion was something be- 
yond description as sound. It struck 
Cartwright like a dazing blow. Reel- 
ing from it, he saw a glare of incan- 
descence. He felt pain where a drop- 
let of molten steel struck his face. 

For an instant the reek of his own 
burnt flesh was in his nostrils, and 
then it was gone. He heard no rush 
of escaping air, because his ringing 
ears were deaf. But he saw the flutter 
of a star-chart — 

Saw it vanish through a ragged hole 
behind him. 

For a moment he stared, paralyzed, 
at the nebula’s dull green. He felt a 
stabbing pain in his ears, a roaring 
pressure in his head, the swift invol- 
untary expiration. Then his lungs 
strove for breath, and found only the 
agony of asphyxiation. 

For the air was gone from the ship. 



CHAPTER XX 
The Final Night 



T HE pressure in Cartwright’s head 
became a bursting agony. It was 



82 



STARTLING STORIES 



popping out his blinded eyes. He felt 
the hot spurt of blood in ears and nos- 
trils. But still, in the vacuum that 
had conquered the ship, he lived. 

He would live for seconds, perhaps 
for even a minute, until the stored 
oxygen in his blood was exhausted. 

He stumbled first toward the gap- 
ing hole in the top of the hull. But 
it was three feet long, larger by far 
than any of the emergency patches in 
the rack. There was only one chance — 

He reached the air-lock. Blindly 
fumbling, he caught the inner valve, 
swung it open. Weak, reeling, sway- 
ing, he tumbled into the cramped lit- 
tle space of it. He tried to close the 
valve. 

But a cold prickling had come over 
his body. Now it ceased. But it left 
a dead numbness. His limbs were re- 
mote dead things, that refused to 
obey his brain. He tried to cough 
the strangling blood out of his throat. 
But, in a vacuum, a man cannot cough. 

The metal vibrated to the closing 
valve, but he heard no sound. He 
turned the seal-valve. A cold weight 
of darkness was plunging down upon 
him. He strove against it. His dead 
fingers found the air valves. 

And at last the oxyhelium breath- 
ing mixture hissed into the lock. 
Gulping it, in great painful gasps, he 
slumped down into a dim half-con- 
sciousness. Desperately he hungered 
for rest, for peace, for oblivion. But 
a second emergency came swift on the 
heels of the first. 

The throb of the geodes ceased. 
The ship lurched and dropped. He 
knew that it was in another dead 
pocket — and that the overheating coils 
would soon be ruined, unless he 
reached the controls. 

He snatched his pressure-suit off its 
hook. Still trembling, his aching 
lungs gasping, he climbed into it and 
closed the zippers and pumped the 
pneumatic seal. 

The blood still streaming from his 
nostrils spattered the face-plate of the 
helmet, half-blinding him. But he 
opened the valve again, and stumbled 
to the controls. 

His thick-gloved fingers trembling 
clumsily on the levers, he worked the 



ship out of the dead pocket. The 
geodes drummed out again, apparently 
uninjured. Peering through the red- 
splattered plate, he found the dim red 
orb of the Sun again. 

For an endless terrible minute, he 
thought that Earth and Moon had been 
lost in the thickening clouds of the 
nebula. But at last he discovered 
their dim red crescents, and set a fresh 
course for Earth. 

The main air-tank on his suit was 
presently exhausted. But it was easy 
to replace it with a spare from the 
racks. At last, triumphantly, he 
brought the Pioneer down toward that 
bare granite ridge amid the glaciers 
of Antarctica. Eagerly he followed 
it, seeking the ark of space. 

The lights were out. That was the 
first alarming thing he saw. He had 
left the mighty cylinder bathed in a 
thousand searchlights. Now they 
were dead. Without their guidance, 
he searched for a long time across the 
dimly green-lit desert of ice. 

At last he discovered the mighty, 
mile-long hull, standing high upon its 
shoring. Stiffened with a strange ap- 
prehension, he dropped the mote of 
the Pioneer beside it. No man was 
alive there to greet him. 

T OOLS lay scattered on the ice. 

The great dock, beneath the gang- 
ways, was stacked with crated and 
bagged and barreled supplies, with 
walls of gold ingots. And snow was 
drifted everywhere. 

Snow banked the golden walls. It 
half covered the abandoned tools. It 
whitened the mountains of supplies. 
An antarctic blizzard had raged here, 
he knew, since the ark had been aban- 
doned. It must have been many days 
ago. 

He tried to reconstruct the scene, to 
find some meaning in the mute ice- 
bound clues about him. His mind saw 
the picture as it must have been, be- 
fore that mysterious tragedy. 

The ark of space, looming splendid 
above the barren glaciers — the last 
hope of mankind. The swarming 
workmen, dwarfed to insects by its 
tremendous bulk, busy with a thou- 
sand final details. Stevedores loading 



THE FORTRESS OF UTOPIA 



83 



the last cargo of Earth. Animals driv- 
en up the gangways, two by two. The 
selected passengers crowding aboard 
with their goods, hastening toward the 
promise of a new world and a new life. 
Armed guards, doubtless, holding 
back hysterical relatives and friends, 
the frantic mob of the doomed. Then, 
suddenly — what? 

Cartwright grappled with enigma. 
The ark had been suddenly abandoned. 
There were signs of a battle. The sup- 
plies and the billions of dollars in gold 
had not been disturbed. The people 
— Captain Drumm and Mart Worth 
and the thousands of their Utopian 
followers — were simply gone. The 
thing was as utterly and numbingly 
mysterious as the vanishing of Pat 
Wayland. 

Perhaps, he thought, the same un- 
known agency had been to blame. In 
his first account of the Vanishings, 
Arro Fournine had said that all those 
taken had been working on the prob- 
lem of escape from the Holocaust. 
Was there some veiled scientific 
power, which had decreed that men 
should not survive the nebula? 

Things began to look that way, to 
Cartwright. 

Now — what next? 

There was nothing, so far as he 
could see. It was now obviously too 
late for the ark to be completed, even 
if work on it could be resumed. Its 
building had been the final effort, and 
that had failed. There was nothing 
else. 

For a long time Cartwright stood 
gazing hopelessly out through the 
ports of the Pioneer, at the unfinished 
hulk of the ark and the twilit desert of 
ice beyond. His weary mind groped 
for some course of action. But there 
was none. 

He came back, at last, to the needs 
of his own body. He was trembling, 
exhausted. For all those weeks of the 
flight, he had not slept sufficiently, or 
eaten properly, or been able to relax. 
He had not recovered from his ordeal 
in the vacuum. 

Mechanically, he opened the face- 
plate of his helmet and cleaned the 
dried blood from it. He attached a 
fresh oxyhelium tank to the pressure 



suit. At last, wearily, he lifted the 
Pioneer once more to the citadel on 
the Moon. 

That was a refuge, beyond the reach, 
he supposed, of whatever had taken all 
his companions and the men from the 
ark. He could sleep, there. He could 
rest. And there was nothing else that 
mattered, any more. For the world 
was lost. 

The Moon was queerly transformed, 
in the dim crimson twilight. But he 
found high-walled Arzachel, and 
brought the Pioneer down toward the 
central peak. The white citadel was 
unchanged. He anchored the Pioneer 
against a valve, and let himself into 
the curving corridor. He dragged 
himself out of the heavy suit — and fell 
asleep beside it on the floor. 

H E woke with a start, and stretched 
his aching body. Moving heav- 
ily, still weary, he bathed, and shaved 
the yellow stubble from his face, and 
stumbled at last into the wide white- 
tiled kitchen where he had so often 
sat with Worth and Drumm and Pat. 

Blackness hung outside the small 
round ports. 

At first, as he listlessly put water 
and coffee into a percolator and looked 
in the refrigerator for a slice of frozen 
ham, there seemed nothing strange 
about the blackness. Then he realized 
that the Sun should have been shining. 

Icy dread spurred him to a port. 
Shading its reflecting surface from the 
lights within, he could see a dying 
glow of red without. Faintly, it out- 
lined the ragged peaks of Arzachel. 
He looked for the Earth and the Sun 
beyond. But he could see only a wall 
of dull red haze, faintly touched, here 
and there, with the nebula’s own omi- 
nous green. 

This, he knew, was the final night. 
He tried to shrug, and limped back 
to his bubbling coffee. It didn’t mat- 
ter. The end might as well come to- 
day as tomorrow. For there was no 
longer any hope for earth and man. 

Cartwright had thought that he was 
hungry. But the frying ham spent its 
aroma unnoticed. It crackled and 
sputtered, as he stood staring at the 
chair that had been Pat Wayland’s. At 



84 



STARTLING STORIES 



last, before he moved, the grease burst 
into flame. 

He discovered it, suddenly, and 
poured water into the blazing pan, and 
moved automatically about the busi- 
ness of cooking another piece. And a 
sort of courage came back to him as 
he ate. 

It was not hope. For there was no 
longer any hope. It was merely the 
rising up in him of something strong- 
er than himself. It was the primal 
drive of race-preservation. 

The thing he must do was obvious. 
The purpose came to him of itself. He 
examined it with a curious detach- 
ment. He saw that the odds were a 
million to one against it. But even 
that realization did not stay him. 

In one of the shops in the citadel, 
he found welding equipment. He put 
on the pressure-suit again, and went 
out into the thickening darkness that 
had fallen upon the Moon. 

His first task was to remove the out- 
er valve of one of the air-locks from 
its hinges. The Earth-weight of the 
massive steel door was five hundred 
pounds. But, heaving and pushing 
and straining, he got it in place at last, 
on top of the Pioneer, over that ragged 
hole. 

It took him several hours to weld it 
in place. Even then it was a ragged 
and unsightly job. But it would hold 
air, he knew — until the next meteor 
struck. At last it was done. He 
made another hasty meal, and took off 
again for Earth. 

The stark simplicity of his purpose 
almost appalled him. 

The Pioneer itself must be the ark 
of space. 

W ITH two or three persons 
aboard, he thought, it might 
reach that rift in the nebula were Vega 
had been visible, and so come to safety. 
To whatever safety, at least, that 
might exist for the survivors of a lost 
world, wandering without hope or 
destination. 

He would first land again in Antarc- 
tica, beside the abandoned ark of 
space. He would load the Pioneer 
from the supplies and the stacks of 
golden fuel there. Then he would 



look for a son and a daughter of 
Utopia — 

His fevered thoughts went back 
again to Pat Wayland. If some mira- 
cle should discover her, her platinum- 
haired loveliness beside him would 
turn this from a bitterly hopeless task 
into a splendid adventure. 

He shrugged, and pushed away the 
dream. After all, he had no hope of 
finding Pat. And, even if he did, she 
would have something to say about be- 
coming the mother of futurity. He 
could hear the malicious sweetness of 
her voice. 

“So noble of you, Jay. But let’s play 
anagrams.” 

The Earth had been invisible, lost in 
the nebula, when he took off from the 
Moon. He set his course by making 
observations on the receding Moon. 
For so short a crossing that should be 
accurate enough — unless he ran into 
another dead pocket, and lost his ori- 
entation. . 

Presently the dull crimson disk of 
the Moon vanished behind him. The 
Sun made only a dull, indefinite blur. 
And still the Earth had not appeared. 
Suddenly the geodes faltered, and a 
cold numbness seized him. 

But, with deft quick hands on the 
controls, he brought the ship safely 
past, before the erratic forces of the 
dead pocket had disturbed the instru- 
ments. He set it back upon the course. 
And at last the Earth came into view. 

An Earth queerly changed ! 

Somehow, it had taken on a strange 
pearly lusture. The atmosphere 
seemed covered with a strange shining 
envelope. The continents and the 
white blots of cloud were hidden 
everywhere save at the center of the 
disk, where he could faintly distin- 
guish the outline of Africa. 

A cold dread gripped him. Was 
that queer film some condensation in 
the atmosphere from the gases of the 
nebula? Was it perhaps a toxic vapor 
that already had annihilated the luck- 
less race? 

Another amazing change took place 
as he watched. Two tufts of flame 
burst out from the poles of that opa- 
lescent globe. A bright, living green 
— a hue that was oddly familiar — they 



THE FORTRESS OF UTOPIA 



85 



sprayed out like the lines of force 
from the poles of a bar magnet. 

The milky envelope had been fright- 
ening. This was the sheer incredible. 
Before he could make even an effort 
to comprehend it, he saw the great 
meteor. 

A vast rock, ragged and dark, came 
plunging through the greenish-black 
streamers of the nebula. A dazzling 
trail of pale-blue luminescence was 
left behind it. 

For an instant, Cartwright thought 
that it would strike the Pioneer. One 
hand tensed on the pilot rod, in a des- 
perate effort to fling the little ship 
aside. The other came up in an aur 
tomatic useless gesture, to shield his 
face. 

I N an instant, however, he realized 
his mistake. That hurtling mass 
was far larger and more distant than 
had been his first dazed impression — 
otherwise its terrific velocity would 
have made it quite invisible. 

Staring in a paralysis of dread, he 
saw that it was moving apparently to- 
ward the Earth. Its mass, he knew, 
must be countless millions of tons. 
The violence of its impact, if it struck, 
might shatter a whole continent. 

What if it did? Numb with horror, 
he made a little apathetic shrug. 
When the world was doomed, what 
mattered a few days more or less? 

If there were any survivors, when 
he landed with the Pioneer — 

His thoughts were frozen. Stiff 
with wonderment, he stared at that 
strangely altered planet, and then back 
at his instruments. He shook his be- 
wildered head, made hurried observa- 
tions and frantic calculations. 

Then he shouted. 

“Moving! If I’m not crazy — the 
Earth is moving — out of its orbit! 
And that meteor is going to miss it!” 
What could have happened, to move 
the planet? No answer was conceiv- 
able. Trembling with a sudden breath- 
less hope and an equal dread, he 
changed the course of the Pioneer, to 
follow. 

And the little geoflexor plunged 
into another dead pocket. It was the 
greatest that Cartwright had struck. 



For an hour the tiny ship spun help- 
less, her drive fields refusing to mesh. 

At last the geodes thrummed again. 
Cartwright searched eagerly for the 
moving Earth. But it was gone. The 
nebula had thickened about him. Even 
the vague crimson blur of the Sun had 
vanished. There were only green- 
black clouds, and the great meteor 
with its shining trail. 



CHAPTER XXI 
The Shining Door 



T HE meteor itself, however, and 
the direction of its luminescent 
trail, restored Cartwright’s orienta- 
tion. He knew the course that the in- 
explicably moving Earth had taken, 
with reference to the meteor. He fol- 
lowed. 

And suddenly the amazing planet 
burst out of a wall of ominous cloud. 
It was a huge globe of milky light, 
thrusting brushes of green fire from 
its poles. With the dust-clouds of the 
nebula whipping past, at scores of 
miles a second, he feared that he would 
lose it again. 

He feared, too, that its incredible 
motion would draw it away from him. 
But its curving progress remained de- 
liberate, and the Pioneer drew toward 
it. 

At last, at an elevation of eighty 
miles, Cartwright came down into that 
opalescent envelope. A thin silver 
haze surrounded the ship, while he 
dropped forty miles. Then it cleared 
again, and made a silver dome above 
him. 

He gasped at what he saw below. 

He was descending over Antarctica. 
His grimly hopeless plan had been to 
land at the abandoned ark of space, to 
provision and refuel the Pioneer. 
Now this motion of the Earth — a thing 
beyond comprehension — might make 
his plan either needless or futile. In 
any case the stack of golden ingots 
for the power tubes was almost ex- 
hausted. Whatever was to come, they 
had to be replenished — 

But even that purpose was swept 



86 



STARTLING STORIES 



from his mind by the wonder of the 
thing he now beheld. 

The ic-bound convexity of the polar 
continent lay beneath him. Rugged 
mountain ranges thrust grim black 
summits above endless seas of hum- 
mocked, fissured ice. And all that 
frozen desert was illuminated by the 
strange pale luminescence of the silver 
sky, and by an incredible pillar of 
weird green flame ! 

Far south of the granite ridge where 
the ark of space had been abandoned, 
full upon the polar plateau itself, rose 
a vast, flat, disk-shaped structure. It 
was a thing, Cartwright’s benumbed 
brain reckoned, thousands of feet in 
diameter. And straight up from its 
center rose that supernal column of 
green fire! It was that same mighty 
jet of mysterious light that made the 
far-spreading brush of fire above the 
silver haze. 

So Cartwright didn’t land at the ark. 
He drove the Pioneer straight toward 
the base of that shining column. He 
had to know about this colossal con- 
struction and the light above it if it 
was the last thing he ever knew. 

For this — this mighty, incredible 
phenomenon — must be what had 
moved the Earth! 

He was afraid, but it was a fear com- 
pounded of awe. All his body was 
cold and stiff with apprehension. But 
an eager hope was burning in him 
too. . . . 

He dropped the Pioneer upon a gla- 
cier slope, beyond that Cyclopean disk. 
It was a curving wall of gray metal. 
It rose straight out of the ice. The 
top of it, he estimated, was five hun- 
dred feet above him. 

His approach had not been chal- 
lenged. He saw no men. Nothing was 
moving. There were no doors, on any 
openings, in that metal wall. He wait- 
ed, anxiously watching through the 
ports. Nothing happened. 

A T last, moved by the desire for a 
closer examination of the thing, 
he opened the Pioneer’s valves, and 
climbed down upon the ice. A drum- 
ming sound reached him, from that 
mighty disk. It was infinitely deep. 
It suggested infinite power. A rush- 



ing, like that of a far hurricane, came 
down from the pillar of flame. 

It was far warmer, outside the ship, 
than he had expected. This was the 
dead of the Antarctic winter. Even 
without the greater cold caused by the 
interception of sunlight by the nebula, 
it might normally have been fifty or 
eighty below zero. Actually, however, 
it was not quite freezing. Little pools 
of water were standing on the ice. 

That high silver haze, Cartwright 
realized, must be radiating heat as 
well as light ! His brain jumped to the 
incredible but correct conclusion — 
this power could make the planet in- 
dependent of the Sun’s radiation! 

In awe and bewilderment he walked 
bewilderedly toward that mighty gray 
wall. Its great size made it deceptive- 
ly near. But at last he came to it, over 
the slippery ice, touched it. It was 
steel. He could see the seams, where 
tremendous plates had been welded. 
It vibrated faintly, to that deep rever- 
beration. 

There was no opening in it. After 
a little time, Cartwright turned to go 
back to the Pioneer, across the weirdly 
green-lit ice. He was shaking his 
head, baffled. 

“Hi, Jay!” 

For a moment he kept plodding on, 
his brain not registering that amazing 
call. Then his heart heaved upon him 
— Pat Wayland’s voice! He wheeled. 
The breath went out of him. 

Something had happened to a tall 
oval section of the steel wall behind 
him. It was shining with a faint bluish 
light. It was ghostly, transparent. 
And Pat Wayland was running out of 
it, as if it had been no more than a 
barrier of smoke ! 

“Jay! Jay!” Her cry was clarion- 
like with a sob of joy beneath it. 

He caught his breath, stumbled to- 
ward her. His anxious eyes were de- 
vouring her. She wore strangely cut 
garments of some white, fur-like stuff. 
Her platinum head was bare, and her 
blue eyes smiled at him, joyously. 

“Pat! Pat!” His incredulous eyes 
went back to the blue-shining doorway 
in the wall of steel. He saw little 
Mart Worth standing beyond its 
smoky transparency, and thought he 



THE FORTRESS OF UTOPIA 



87 



glimpsed the bright uniform of Cap- 
tain Drumm. And there was a tall, 
strangely attired figure who looked 
curiously like Lyman Galt! He looked 
bewilderedly back at the girl. 

“Pat,” he faltered . . . “this is . . . 
a dream. . . .” 

Her hand seized his. He gripped it, 
clinging to the warm strong reality of 
it and looked anxiously into her white 
face. She shook her shining head, 
happily. 

“It isn’t a dream, though it’s all 
wonderful enough to be one.” 

Like a sleep walker, he looked back 
at the glowing, smoky oval. It was 
real. Pat was real. It was all real. 
And now he found tongue, masked his 
stormy emotions. 

“How about that?” He searched 
her face again. “How did you get 
out here, Pat? I may be crazy — but I 
thought I saw you come walking 
through a solid steel wall.” 

Her laugh was like the chime of a 
bell. 

“So you did, Jay — and that isn’t the 
strangest thing you will see.” 

He held on to her hand. This, at 
least, he would not deny himself. 

“It’s just one surprising little scien- 
tific discovery of the Under-men,” she 
explained. “One of their scientists 
was looking for a way to make more 
space for them, underground. He de- 
veloped a force-field which polarizes 
the electrons. Two pieces of matter, 
polarized in different planes, are in- 
terpenetrable. The discovery was not 
successful for the original purpose, 
because the polarization lasts only a 
few seconds after the power is turned 
off. But it does enable men to walk 
through walls — or floors.” 

Cartwright started. 

“So that’s how you were taken, 
Pat?” 

Her shining head nodded. 

“A band of Under-men came up 
from their tunnels, through a polar- 
ized section of the floor. They had 
been coming every night, to observe 
the nebula. They simply took the op- 
portunity to avail themselves of the 
services of one of the famous Four.” 

She laughed again. He had never 
heard her laugh like that before. 



“These Under-men?” he demanded. 
“Who—” 

“They are the children of the rene- 
gades,” she told him. “Their leader, 
Kran Grekko, says that he is the 
great-great-great-grandson of Silver 
Skull— do you see an amazing likeness 
to Lyman Galt?” 

“Galt? Yes!” 

C ARTWRIGHT’S eyes flashed to 
the fading oval of the strange 
door, and the girl nodded. Her blue 
eyes turned serious. 

“It seems there was something 
wrong with our great Plan, Jay. Our 
Utopia failed. It was the renegades, 
whom We tried to destroy, who made 
the real advance. Because, I suppose, 
they had to advance in order to sur- 
vive at all. Now it is they who have 
saved the Earth.” 

“They are really moving it?” Cart- 
wright gestured, dazedly, at the great 
disk and the pillar of shining green 
above. “With — this?” 

Pat Wayland nodded, smiling at 
him a little tremulously. 

“They are. The Earth is now a 
ship. If this disk were smaller, you 
would recognize it as a geode-element. 
It differs only in size from the one of 
the geodes on the Pioneer. There is 
another like it, moored at the north 
pole. All the planet is meshed in 
their geoflexion field.” 

“The Earth — a ship!” 

Cartwright’s amazed eyes lifted to 
the silver vault above. 

“It is a ship,” the girl said softly. 
“The Under-men have developed an 
iron-cathode power tube that is many 
times more efficient than anything we 
had, and their deeper tunnels have 
found fuel enough.” 

Her white arm lifted. 

“That silvery gas, floating above the 
atmosphere, prevents too rapid radia- 
tion of heat. It is excited to fluores- 
cence by the cosmic rays. So, 
wherever we voyage in space, we’ll 
have heat and light. 

“There will be no days or nights, of 
course. The climate over all the 
planet will be mild and comfortable. 
An eternal spring, Worth promises. 
You see that the ice is already thaw- 



88 



STARTLING STORIES 



ing, down here in Antarctica.” 

Her blue eyes were shining. 

“Isn’t it wonderful, Jay!” Her 
voice had an eager ring. “The Earth 
is safe. It’s free. Now it can cruise 
through space, from star to star, 
wherever man shall guide it. A new 
era has come, of knowledge and free- 
dom and power. Men are now the 
masters of their environment, and not 
the slaves.” 

A sober little hush came into her 
voice. “Our job, that we planned so 
long ago — two hundred and thirty 
years ago — is done. Aren’t you happy, 
Jay? Isn’t it grand?” 

Suddenly her blue eyes were peer- 
ing at him curiously. “What’s the 
matter, Jay? Aren’t you glad?” 

He shook his yellow head, with a 
dazed little grin. 

“Oh, I guess I’m glad — of course I’m 
glad. What I mean is — well, I’m still 
sort of confused and tired. I don’t 
know quite what to think. But it 
looks like everything is going to be 
all right. There’s nothing more to 
worry about, I guess.” 

He looked at her slim blond loveli- 
ness. “What about you, Pat? What 
are you going to do?” 

It was a little time before she an- 
swered. He saw a little wet gleam in 
her huge blue eyes, and she blinked. 

“I don’t know. Jay,” she said slowly. 
“I don’t know. I have been working 
to help save the Earth for so long — 
putting that first, and trying to forget 
everything else — so long, that nothing 
else seems quite real. I guess I’ll find 



something — sort of begin over again, 
somehow.” 

Her soft voice caught. 

“How — how about you, Jay?” 

It wasn’t any use, Cartwright knew, 
to tell her what he felt. But it had 
been bottled up in him too long. And 
now, in this dazing moment of vic- 
tory, no possible rebuff seemed to mat- 
ter very much. 

It came rushing out of him. 

“You know I love you, Pat. I’ve 
told you before. It’s probably no use 
to say it again. And please forgive 
me if I hurt you. I don’t know what 
makes you like you are. Whether you 
loved Galt, or someone before. But — 
well, I just can’t help loving you.” 

He stopped, then, staring at her. 
He had expected one of her old ma- 
licious wise-cracks. But suddenly she 
was laughing, and then he saw that 
she was crying, and then he didn’t 
know which she was doing. 

Words filtered through her pa- 
roxysms. 

“Once I thought I loved Lyman. 
That was why I first joined his 
Utopia Corporation. But that left no 
time, no room, for anything. The ap- 
proach of the Holocaust, it seemed to 
me, made all love madness. I’m afraid 
I showed my bitterness and anger. But 
now — ” 

Cartwright had never understood 
Pat Wayland. 

Now he was astonished when she 
flung her arms around him, and kissed 
him eagerly. But not too astonished 
to make the fitting response. 



Next Issue: THE THREE PLANETEERS, a Complete 
Book-Length Novel of the Spaceways by EDMOND HAMILTON 



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- CRAZY, WOTVlWG'-NEmiM 
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20 SHAVES FREE 

Lambert Pharmacal Co., Dept. 88, St. Louis, Mo. Please send me 
free and postpaid your large sample tube of □ Listerine Shaving 
Cream; □ Listerine Brushless Cream. (Check whichever is desired.) 



City- 



_ Ad dr css _ 



-State. 



THE CONQUEST OF 
THE IMPOSSIBLE 



A Guest Editorial 

By RALPH MILNE PARLEY, NLA. 

FAMOUS SCIENTIFICTION AUTHOR 



T HE British Patent Office used to have a 
practice of rejecting all patent applications 
which involved perpetual motion. Perpetual 
motion was inherently impossible, they said. 
But finally an applicant, who claimed to have 
invented perpetual motion, ap- 
pealed and carried his case clear to 
the House of Lords. 

The Lords overruled the Patent 
Office, in a learned opinion bris- 
tling with instances of things which 
scientists had unanimously de- 
clared impossible, but which later 
had come to pass. So the Lords 
held that each patent involving 
perpetual motion must be consid- 
ered on its own individual merits, 
precisely like a patent in any other 
field. 

When the steam locomotive was 
first invented, scientists shook their 
heads and prophesied that human 
beings could not travel at a speed 
of 20 m.p.h. and live. 

With the exception of the lamented Professor 
Langley, scientists were agreed that man would 
never fly. 

Yet, even when confronted with these in- 
stances of mis-prophecy, the scientists and 
pseudo-scientists of today ponderously explain 
that, although their ilk were wrong before, nev- 
ertheless perpetual motion and time traveling 
are in quite a different category — that it can 
be proved mathematically that these things 
really ARE impossible. 



Perpetual motion violates the law of conser- 
vation of energy, they say. Who enacted that 
law? “Laws of nature,” so-called, are not laws; 
they are merely generalizations from observed 
phenomena, always open to the discovery of ex- 
ceptions. 

Time-traveling violates the prin- 
ciple that you can’t have a time- 
rate-of-change of time, they say. 
Why not? You can have a space- 
rate-of-change of space: dy/dx. 

Ah, but, they dogmatically reply, 
there are three space dimensions, 
and only one time. Quite so. But 
a spaee-rate-of-change of space is 
possible along a one-dimensional 
line: dxa/dxi. So why not dt,/dti? 

Gentlemen of science, we the au- 
thors of science-fiction are one 
jump ahead of you. Holland’s sub- 
marine patent was declared invalid 
as anticipated by Jules Verne’s 
novel. The U. S. Patent Office re- 
jected an automatic radio-relay on 
the strength of a gadget in one of my Radio 
Man stories. And when you yourselves finally 
perfect perpetual motion, time travel, thinking 
robots, etc., it will again be found that we have 
beaten you to it. 

So don’t be too dogmatic about your un- 
breakable “laws of nature.” Nothing is im- 
possible! 

(Note: Prof. Farley, in addition to being a well- 
known author of science-fiction, is the holder of a num- 
ber of patents, and is Lecturer in Physics at Mar- 
quette University.) 




Ralph Milne Farley 






AS HI ASTON'S BIRTH0AYFESRUARy32, 
’H HERTZ'lS TMt FATHER OF RADIO 
oftlSSSAtAY 





HEINAL 

TBANSMISSIOn: in FACT,' RAns WAVES WL 

CALLED "HERTZIAN" WAVES. THE Ft GST WEAK (Ml 

WERE PROJECTED OVER THE ETHER IN 1866. AT CARLS* 
RUH6,6KRMANy. DYING AT THE ARE OF 37, HERTZ. 
NEVER. KNEW THAT Hi* STRANGE NEW WAVES WRftE 
DESTINED. THROUGH MARCONI'S PEVELOPMINT6.TD 
PROJECT THE HUMAN VOICE TO THE 8,1 NOTE ST 
CORNERS OP EARTH / „ 



BMERTZ'S LABORATORY MAS IN AM *- 
ANCIENT PALACE CONVERTED INTO A 
UNIVERSITY BUILDING. AT TIMES HE TOOK A t 

BREATH OF FRESH AIR ON THE ROOF, OVER- K 
LOOKING THE COUNTRYSIOE, LITTLE REALIZING 
HIS RESEARCHES WOULO MAKE POSSIBLE THE 
HURLING OF MAN'S VOICE FARTHER THAN HE 

could see/ 



* HUeRTZ FULFILLED a HRLF CENTURY OF PREVIOUS SCIENTIFIC 
j THEORY. FARADAY AND CLERK*' MAX WELL BEFORE HIM HAP SUSPECTED 
I THAT THE MVeTERteuS-ETHER* COULD CAR .RV OTHER. ELECTROMAGNETIC 

( VIBRATIONS BESIDE THOSE OF ORDINARY LIGHT. IT REMAINED FOR 
HERTZ'S PIONEERING GENIUS TO SEND HIGH POWER. THROUGH A OAR 
IN A SPARK-COIL, INDUCING THE SAME SPARK IN A SIMILAR, 
THOUGH UNCONNECTED COIL NEARBY, THUS TRANSMITTING WIRE- 
LESS VIBRATIONS FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HISTORY- HERTZ'S FIRST 
RADIO "BROADCAST" WAS FOR A DISTANCE OF FIVE FEET/ 



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HEINRICH RUDOLPH HERTZ 

BORN IBS7 - PIED 1894 






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Next Issue: THE LIFE STORY OF BENJAMIN 

90 





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INVESTIGATION. IT IS LIKELV THAT IP HE HAO LIVED 
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OP THE WAVE-SPECTRUM — -X-RAy*. GAMMA-RAYS. 
EVEN COSMIC RAYS. AS IT IS, SINCE THE TIME OF HERTZ 
ONE* FOURTH OF ALL RESEARCH IN PHYSICS HAS BEEN 
IN THE DOMAIN HE UNLOCKED/ „ . 



*w8F GERMAN-J6WISH PARENTAGE, HERTZ 
WAS BRILLIANT AND SENSITIVE BY NATURE. 
WHEN HIS FIRST published paper on the wave- 
lengths OF HIS NEW DISCOVERY WAS SHOWN TO 
CONTAIN AN ERROR OF FIVE- MILLIONTHS OF A 
SECOND, HERTZ. WAS DESPONDENT , BECAUSE OF 
HIS SINCERE , EARNEST NATURE, ALMOST TO THE 
POINT OF SUICIDE/ i y ~ 



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ERTZ DIED JUST BEFORE THE ERA “g* 
THAT USHERED IH THE X-RAY, RADIUM, THE '® 

AUTOMOBILE, AIRPLANE AND MOVIE INDUSTRY, 1 
BUT HE HAD LAID THE KEYSTONE FOR A GIANT 
INDUSTRY EQUAL TO ANY OF THEM. TODAY, WITH 
TELEVISION IN THE OFFING, WE ARE IHOBBTEO TO 
HERTZ FOR THE EYES AND EARS OF THE WORLD/ 



FRANKLIN, the First of American Scientists 

91 




THREE 

WISE 

MEN 



A Time-Traveling Machine 



Explodes on a 
Millionaire's Doorstep 



By 



LLOYD ARTHUR 
ESCHBACH 



Author of “The Time Conguqror ** “ The 
Meteor Miners ” etc . 



OW, listen, Sergeant, I’ve got 
W some information that you 
A. ^ really ought to get. I guess 
I’d be better off if I kept my mouth 
shut, but — well, this Doctor Stoner 
you’re holding is innocent. He didn’t 
murder those three freaks. They — 
just died. 

There’s a lot to this case that you 
don’t understand. Sergeant. Doc 
Stoner and I are the only ones who 
know the inside story. And he won’t 
talk. 

Who, me? My name’s Tom Dorion. 
Age thirty-two. I’m a freak-hunter for 
the Empire Circus combine — you 
know, the outfit that bought out Ring- 
ling and Barnum . . . 

Oh — I just keep hunting up freaks 
for the shows. Whenever the boss gets 
a lead on something new and big for 
the midways, he sends me out to sign 
’em up. Between times I keep roving, 
scouting for material. 

Where do I cut in on this case? 
That’s what I want to tell you. It’s a 
long story, and I’m not much of a hand 




They introduced themselves as visitors from the 
Forty-third Century, A.D. 



92 




THREE WISE MEN 



93 



at talking, but here goes. About two 
months back, I’d just returned from 
Borneo with a two-headed snake, and a 
Dyak boy with a pair of singing parra- 
keets, when the big boss — that’s Joe 
Wallace — called me into his office. I 
could see right off that he didn’t feel 
like patting me on the back and hand- 
ing me a cigar, and, suddenlike, he 
jammed a newspaper into my hand and 
pointed to a headline. 

“Look !” he yelped. “Somewhere out 
on Long Island are three freaks — lit- 
tle guys with big heads — and I want 
them for my shows ! They’re gettin’ a 
swell build-up. An’ you’re gonna sign 
’em — or else!” 

I didn’t like that “or else,” but I 
didn’t say so. I just looked at the ar- 
ticle. Maybe you read it, too, Ser- 
geant — most everybody did, I guess. 
Anyway, I have the clipping here, and 
if you don’t mind, I’ll sort of skim over 
’em, just to refresh your memory. 

THREE WISE MEN COME OUT 
OF FUTURE 



Ambassadors From Tomorrow Appear at 
Long Island House Party 



SCIENTISTS ASTOUNDED 

Long Island City, July 9 — A house party 
at the country estate of Oliver P. Mawson, 
millionaire autcyiobile manufacturer, came 
to an abrupt Shd thrilling termination last 
night with the appearance of three uninvited 
guests. With more than two hundred famous 
people present, including the leading figures 
in artistic, scientific and financial circles 
the party reached its height at about 2 
a.m., when a terrific explosion shook the 
sumptuous Mawson mansion. Shouts were 
heard from the lawn outside, and excited 
guests streamed into the night. 

A startling spectacle greeted them. The 
entire western sky was lit up by a strange 
greenish light rising from a little hill a hun- 
dred yards away. And in that unearthly 
glow they saw a huge polished metal cylin- 
der sprawled on the hillside, its lower end 
twisted and torn by the explosion which 
had gouged and blasted the hilltop, uproot- 
ing several young trees. 

As the guests reached the hill, they heard 
sounds within the metal cylinder, and one 
after another, three strange small men 
crawled out. Almost identical in appearance, 
they were little more than four feet in 
height, and their bodies, covered only by 
white sleeveless shirts of some soft silky 
material, and flaring white shorts, seemed 
amazingly thin and fragile, though tanned a 



golden brown. Their heads, completely 
bald, were enormous, being fully twice the 
size of normal human heads. And their 
faces, thin almost to the point of emaciation, 
were old and wrinkled, with deeply shunken 
eyes and thin, indrawn lips, the whole some- 
how grotesquely out of proportion with their 
huge heads. 

SCIENTIST INTERVIEWED 

In an interview, Roger St. John, noted as- 
stronomer and writer, stated: “I never saw 
a more startling spectacle. That green glow 
which seemed to emanate from the very 
earth of the hilltop, cloaked those three little 
men with an air of the unearthly. It stunned 
us. There was something almost juvenile in 
their faces, yet with it was something so in- 
credibly ancient that — well, it marked them 
as creatures of another world — or time! 

“It seemed almost as though they had 
stepped from the pages of a Wellsian fan- 
tasy — men from the future. When one of 
them spoke, his voice was peculiarly flat and 
bore an indescribable accent. 

“ ‘A slight miscalculation, Lon,’ he said, 
‘doubtless due to the changing contour of 
the Terrestrial surface. We should have 
raised our supports two feet higher.’ 

“ ‘Fortunate that our miscalculation had 
no more regrettable result than the loss of 
our Time-drive,’ replied the second little 
man dryly. 

“The third waved a hand toward us and 
said in the same flat voice, ‘We have audi- 
ence, comrades.’ And the three walked 
slowly down the hillside.” 

COME OUT OF FUTURE 

After the excited throng escorted the 
strange visitors into the great ballroom of 
Mawson Manor, and subsided to a point 
where intelligent conversation could be car- 
ried on, the three introduced themselves as 
“Lon St-228-86,” “Andcr Cw-741-22,” and 
“Ken Mb-390-54,” visitors from the Forty- 
third Century, A.D., or the year 2351, New 
Era. They had come back into the past, so 
they said, to view at first hand what their 
history indicated was the first year of the 
New Era — this very year. 

There followed an animated discussion, 
during which the visitors were dubbed “The 
Three Wise Men,” for they revealed a star- 
tling knowledge about everything. The 
effect of this discovery was startling . . . 

W HAT’S that, Sarge? . . . Well, 
okay. Anyway, maybe it gives 
you an idea how I felt when I looked 
at Joe Wallace after I’d finished read- 
ing the thing. I opened my mouth — 
“Don’t say it, Dorion,” he snapped. 
“I’m dumb enough to give you credit 
for having a little brains — an’ if you 
try to tell me you’re failin’ for this 



94 



STARTLING STORIES 



time-travelin’ bunk, I’m liable to get 
sore. Look! You scram over to that 
Mawson guy’s joint an’ stay there till 
things break. Sooner or later the bot- 
tom’ll fall outa the story these three 
big-headed freaks are dishing up, an’ 
when it does, I want you there to sign 
’em !” 

I didn’t waste much time getting out 
to Mawson’s little fifty-acre estate on 
Long Island, but getting inside was 
something else. A faked reporter’s 
card didn’t work. Neither did a black 
bag, a pair of spectacles, and a doctor’s 
front. So — well, I got in, but I was 
glad there didn’t happen to be any po- 
lice around. 

After I brushed the dust off my 
soup-and-fish, there wasn’t anyone 
could tell me from the other guests. 
When I first saw those three little men 
— well, it was an experience. The pa- 
pers hadn’t stretched things a bit. 
Boy, I figured, if Joe Wallace could 
get them, we sure had three world- 
beaters on our hands. 

This guy Mawson had sort of set 
himself up as proud father and legal 
guardian of the Three — and let me tell 
you, he did things right. Some of 
those feeds of his would set you back 
twenty bucks in a Manhattan hash 
house. 

The second day, Mawson arranged 
an interview with the press. Never 
saw such a mob of reporters before or 
since. The scientists were there, and 
— well, when the lid blew off, and the 
physics, astronomy, higher mathemat- 
ics, biology and all the rest of that 
bunk started flying around sort of 
casual-like, the Three Wise Men got 
to telling the scientific big shots where 
to head in. Those little guys knew 
everything ! 

There was one egg there, a German 
scientist, who thought he was pretty 
hot stuff. Seems he’d written a book 
called “Atoms, Protons and Posi- 
trons, the Building Blocks of the Uni- 
verse.” The way he looked at it, now 
there was nothing more to be said. He 
mentioned his work, and Ander — he 
was the only one of the Three with a 
sense of humor — started spouting a 
chapter of the book, word for word! 
Just sat there looking at nothing while 



the syllables rolled out in that flat, 
hollow voice. 

I could see the Dutchman swelling 
up like a balloon — not thinking of the 
brains this little man had, but of how 
important his work was to be remem- 
bered two thousand years in the fu- 
ture. Then Ander said, sort of soft 
and gentle: 

“We preserve some of the more ab- 
surd of the ancient writings as enter- 
tainment for the children. A counter- 
part, I should say, of your fairy tales.” 

When the reporters left at the end 
of three or four hq#irs, the Three Wise 
Men were headra for the biggest 
splash of publicity that ever hit any- 
body. I still remember some of those 
headlines. 

The Three Wise Men Explain 
Relativity to Einstein 

Super-Mentals Baffle Scientists 

Future Men Ride Rough Shod Over 
Earth’s Best Minds 

There were pictures by the dozens, 
pictures of the Three, pictures of their 
machine — what was left of it after the 
souvenir hunters got through with it. 

F UNNY, but there was one big an- 
gle that everybody’d overlooked 
at first. But when it struck, it socked 
about forty million people all at once. 
If these little birds had come out of 
the future, they must know some his- 
tory that hadn’t happened as yet ! And 
you know, Sarge, there’s nothing a 
man wouldn’t give to know what’s go- 
ing to break tomorrow or the next day. 
Think how swell it would be for a guy 
playing the market! And these Three 
with their super memories — well, it 
looked like a natural. 

About forty million phone calls, 
telegrams and letters struck Mawson 
Manor at the same time. Could the 
Three Wise Men tell the history of 
the future? They could and would! 

Oliver P. Mawson arranged it. He’s 
a big fat man about six-feet-two, with 
round red cheeks like a pair of apples, 
and eyes as bright as two blue marbles 
— and he’s just as hard. Worked his 
way up from a laborer in an auto plant 



THREE WISE MEN 



95 



to become one of the richest men in 
the country. 

With Mawson pulling the strings, 
the Three Wise Men were scheduled 
for a big television broadcast on a 
world hook-up. That was just a few 
months before the Presidential elec- 
tion, and the Three crowded the can- 
didates right off the air waves. 

As for the broadcast — well, every- 
body had heard of the Three, had read 
what they had said, and now they 
could see them and hear them. And 
they said plenty. They told of the big 
yellow war of seventy years from now. 
They told. . . . But I guess you heard 
the broadcast. About this New Era 
business; and this year being the first 
of the New Era, the beginning of a 
slow, unbroken march toward genuine 
civilization. And how they said a man 
by the name of Doctor Michel Stoner 
was the one to take the first big step 
forward. Michel Stoner, the next 
President of the United States, they 
said. 

Let me tell you, Sarge, that rocked 
the great American public back on 
their heels. Who was Doctor Michel 
Stoner? Nobody’d ever heard of him. 
Yet the Three said he was going to be 
the next President ! 

The papers — you remember, Sarge 
— played it up big. Michel Stoner, the 
Man of Destiny ! Who was he? Where 
was he? 

So they started hunting for Michel 
Stoner, M.D. Some reporter found out 
that about twenty-five years ago he’d 
practiced medicine in a little Pennsyl- 
vania town, and that he’d dropped that 
to take over a professor’s chair in a 
college so small they didn’t even have 
a paid football team — and that was all. 
He’d simply disappeared. 

The search went on until at last they 
found him in a little four-^oom cabin 
in the Massachusetts hills about a hun- 
dred miles from nowhere. Didn’t even 
have a radio. Hadn’t seen a newspaper 
in two months. Nobody around there 
knew anything about him except that 
about once every three months or so 
he drove out of the hills in a dilapi- 
dated flivver to buy some gasoline, 
food and books. The books they re- 
membered most, ’cause there was al- 



ways a lot of them waiting in the Post 
Office marked M. Stoner, General De- 
livery. I think it was through the pub- 
lishers he was finally located. 

Well, if nobody knew anything 
about him at first, it didn’t take them 
long to find out. Oliver P., himself, 
drove up there in a platinum plated 
Rolls and carried him back to Mawson 
Manor. And of course there was an- 
other big world broadcast, with Maw- 
son the master of ceremonies. The 
Three Wise Men were there with bells 
on. And Stoner — well, Sarge, if you 
saw and heard that broadcast, you’ll 
have to admit he made some impres- 
sion. 

1 DON’T care if you do have him 
behind the bars! I told you he’s 
innocent — and I’m here to prove it to 
you. 

I have another clipping . . . 

Now wait a minute, Sarge. Just this 
one. This’ll be the last one I’ll read. 
You see, I make scrap books of the 
things I’m interested in — helps me 
keep a record. . . . Listen! 

WORLD BROADCAST STARTLES 
VAST AUDIENCE 

Dr. Michel Stoner Makes Amazing 
Impression 

WILL RUN FOR OFFICE 

New York City, Aug. 22 — Dr. Michel 
Stoner, the recluse from the Massachusetts 
hills, will be an independent candidate in the 
forthcoming Presidential election. He re- 
vealed that last night, after a world televi- 
sion broadcast in which he proved to be one 
of the most impressive figures ever to reach 
the telescreens. Despite his earlier decision 
to leave politics to others, Dr. Stoner found 
the American public so overwhelmingly in- 
sistent on his running for office, that he felt 
impelled to yield to their demands. 

Dr. Stoner faced an audience burning with 
curiosity to see the man mentioned by the 
Three Wise Men as the first President of 
the New Era. Of average height and rather 
slender in build, he is at once a figure of 
quiet power, impressive dignity, and mag- 
netic personality. His head is crowned 
with a mass of snow white hair. And his 
voice — never has such a resonant voice 
borne so much of wisdom on the one hand 
and beauty of diction on the other. In Dr. 
Michel Stoner, America has discovered a 
genius. 

For the past twenty years Doctor Stoner 
has been engaged in the writing of a vol- 



96 



STARTLING STORIES 



uminous and comprehensive work tenta- 
tively entitled “Man and the Way of Man.” 
In his manuscript, already more than two 
million words in length, Doctor Stoner has 
discussed in full detail the development of 
Man since the dawn of reason, up to the 
present, and into the future. If the numer- 
ous quotations from his work are an indica- 
tion, he possesses a rare insight into human 
behavior and character. 

New Era Dawning 

“Man,” he said, “has reached the threshold 
of vast new truths. The doors of knowledge 
are swinging aside. Old thoughts and meth- 
ods of thinking are passing away, displaced 
by a newer, more rational consciousness. 
Long-standing fears, disorders and supersti- 
tions are yielding to an imposing array of 
new knowledge, like a tidal wave sweeping 
everything before it. And Man rides like 
foam on its crest! 

“A New Era is dawning, a new age when 
all mankind will be welded into one vast 
spiritual whole, one tremendous world com- 
munity in which the term ‘war’ will have no 
meaning. Someone with cosmic understand- 
ing, someone in whom the world conscious- 
ness has awakened into fulness of life, will 
lead you, but it should be someone wiser far 
than I — someone whose name I do not 
know.” 

Yeah, Sarge, I suppose that is 
enough. Seems like everybody else 
thought so, too, for it was only about 
ten minutes after he left the air that 
demands started pouring in for him to 
run for President. 

What a howl went up in certain 
quarters when the Doc started his 
campaign. After all, this guy’s 
speeches were the kind that got prac- 
tically anything they asked for, and 
with the Three Wise Men on his side, 
it looked like a sure thing for the dark 
horse. The Democrats kicked because 
they figured they had had the thing in 
the bag; and the Republicans kicked 
because they thought — or, at least 
hoped — that this time they’d be able 
to upset the mule. 

But the howls were only straws in a 
cyclone. No one paid much attention 
to the other candidates. A blind man 
could see that Stoner was slated to go 
in with the biggest majority in his- 
tory. What was the use in voting 
against a man who, future records 
showed, had been elected? And with 
the Three for him, and Mawson’s mil- 
lions behind him — well, Sarge, it was 
some set-up. 



1 DIDN’T see much of the three lit- 
tle big-shots those days, nor much 
of Stoner or Mawson, either. They 
still made the big Long Island mansion 
their headquarters, but they were too 
busy to spend much time with a flock 
of perpetual house guests. I figure 
they’d have given us our walking pa- 
pers if it hadn’t been for the scientists, 
but they made company for the Three, 
and good copy for the tabloids. Any- 
way, I was in, and enjoying it. 

But after awhile my conscience 
started working. I remembered Joe 
Wallace, and here I was, swimming 
and playing tennis with a pair of swell 
dames, eating so much that I’d put on 
an average of two pounds a week, and 
— well, I decided to get busy. 

It took about a week for me to get 
the hang of the place ; then one night 
when I was playing detective I stum- 
bled on something big. There’d been 
some big doings in Philadelphia — 
Stoner given the keys to the burg, a 
big parade, speeches and everything 
that went with it. They’d come back 
to Mawson Manor all played out. 

I was sliding along one of those big 
corridors when I heard voices. Maw- 
son’s bark, Stoner’s smooth, deep bari- 
tone, and the flat creaking voices of 
the Three. And they didn’t sound like 
they were chinning just to pass the 
time away. 

“Get this, Stoner,” I heard Mawson 
say, and his words sort of cut like a 
knife, “you’re not backing out! You 
couldn’t, even if I’d let you. And I’m 
not letting you, see ! There’s too much 
involved in this for things to topple 
now. So forget it.” 

“I can’t forget it,” Stoner said, as 
solemn as a funeral. “I’m tired of the 
whole thing. I wish you’d never found 

, , , _ » 
me. 

Then one of the Three spoke — I 
think it was Lon. 

“We’re tired, too.” And he certainly 
sounded tired; like a guy with insom- 
nia, who hadn’t slept for months. 

“Tired !” Mawson’s voice cracked. 
“Then go to bed — get some sleep. To- 
morrow you’ll be over this nonsense. 
I’ve got enough to worry about with- 
out this. Got another threatening let- 
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98 



STARTLING STORIES 



ter today — this one, I think, from the 
Ernisto mob. The politicians are back 
of ’em, I’m certain, but I can’t prove it. 
The police — they can’t do a damn’ 
thing ! And where’d we be if the Three 
Wise Men were kidnaped!” 

I heard a door slam, and I beat it 
down the hall — fast. 

I didn’t sleep so well that night. 
What I’d heard took heavy thinking. 
Stoner was tired of the whole thing. 
Tired of what? Of running for Presi- 
dent? Or of a big fake? Then I 
thought of those strange big-headed 
little men with their young eyes and 
old voices, and I didn’t know what to 
think. . . . And this talk of kidnaping 
— there hadn’t been even a whisper 
about it in the papers. Big things were 
starting to break, and I could only 
wait. 

I dragged through the next two days 
in a sort of fog, waiting for something 
to happen. And when I woke up on 
the morning of the third day, it had 
happened all right — cracked wide 
open. 

THE THREE WISE MEN KID- 
NAPED ! 

The tabloids screamed it in the big- 
gest headlines since the Lindbergh 
case. The telescreens sort of snapped, 
or roared it at a wholesale rate. I’d 
been half expecting it, yet it knocked 
the wind out of me. 

It seemed Doctor Stoner and the 
Three had been returning late from a 
trip to the studios. Mawson had been 
delayed. On a lonely stretch of road 
they’d run out of gas — how, was a mys- 
tery, ’cause the gauge registered 
“full.” Must’ve been tampered with. 
The chauffeur had walked back toward 
the last gas station they’d passed, and 
when he’d come back, car, Wise Men, 
and Presidential candidate had disap- 
peared. 

B UT you know all that, Sarge, bet- 
ter than I do — and you know how 
they found Stoner the next day lying 
in the back of the car as sick as a dog, 
and the smell of chloroform strong 
enough to choke an elephant. He told 
how a big sedan had pulled up and 



four men with tommy-guns had or- 
dered the Three into their machine, 
and had doped him. That was all he 
knew till the cops found him. And the 
mileage gauge had been smashed . . . 

Oh, I know it’s all old stuff to you, 
but I’ve got to tell this in my own way. 
I don’t want to skip anything impor- 
tant, see? 

Well, in Mawson Manor things re- 
sembled a first-class madhouse. The 
big boss tore things wide open. Doc- 
tor Stoner was confined to his room, 
almost prostrated by shock. And then 
the police came in droves, and sort of 
suddenlike I got the idea that it was 
time for Tom Dorion to scram! I was 
the uninvited guest, and I’d have a 
tough time talking myself out of this 
spot if the police caught up with me. 

In town, I hung around my room 
waiting to see what would happen 
next. There wasn’t much — just the de- 
livery of that first ransom note de- 
manding one million dollars for each 
of the Three. Letters clipped out of 
newspapers and pasted on a sheet of 
bond paper by a guy wearing gloves. 
No fingerprints — no nothing! 

You picked up a lot of mobsters that 
first week, didn’t you, Sarge? And you 
looked for a house guest who had dis- 
appeared on the day after the kidnap- 
ing, a guy nobody seemed to know 
much about — only you couldn’t find 
him. And after a little while you 
found out you hadn’t accomplished 
anything. The papers made it hot for 
the police commissioner, and he made 
it hot for everybody under him. You 
sweated a flock of mobsters — and it 
didn’t mean a thing. 

It was about that time that I decided 
I’d better get busy. Joe Wallace had 
told me to stick with the Three Wise 
Men till I’d signed ’em up for his 
shows, and here I’d let ’em be kid- 
naped under my very nose. I sort of 
thought things over and I got a 
hunch. You see, I couldn’t get that lit- 
tle conversation between Mawson, 
Stoner, and the Three out of my dome. 
So I hired a flivver and headed for the 
Massachusetts hills. 

That little cabin of Michel Stoner’s 
wasn’t the easiest place in the world to 
find, but I found it. I guess I was 



THREE WISE MEN 



99 



about two blocks from the place when 
I parked the rattling wreck I was driv- 
ing and sort of crept up toward the 
joint. It was a nifty little hideaway. 

It took me about a half an hour to 
cover a couple hundred yards. I didn’t 
figure there was much danger, if my 
hunch was right. But I couldn’t be 
sure, so I didn’t take any chances. If 
those hardboiled boys with the hair 
grease and the tommy-guns were 
mixed up in this — well, it might not 
be so healthy for Tom Dorion! 

But I finally got there and sort of 
eased my eyes up over a window sill. 
There they were — the Three Wise 
Men and nobody else. It took me just 
about one second to get around to the 
door. Let me tell you, Sarge, I felt 
good. This was a break. Here was my 
chance. If I didn’t get their names on 
some kind of a contract, it wouldn’t 
be my fault. 

W HEN I knocked on the door 
and one of them answered, 
“Come in,” some of the pep went out 
of me. Honest, Sarge, I never heard 
anything as — as lifeless as that voice. 
So flat and dull. Almost like I was 
hearing the dead talking, if you get 
what I mean. 

There they were, sprawled out 
across a cot bed, hardly moving. They 
always were queer-looking birds, but 
now it seemed like they were centuries 
old, as though they were shrinking, 
drying up before my eyes. 

“Good morning, gentlemen,” I said 
cheery-like. “Thought I’d stop in an’ 
say hello.” 

Anders answered, and he didn’t even 
move his head. “We are glad you 
came. We are so — tired. We have 
lived beyond our — allotted span. Soon 
we shall die. And it is not good to die 
alone.” 

If you don’t think that just about 
floored me, Sarge, you’re crazy. There 
I was with the best attraction that ever 
hit the show game, practically in the 
palm of my hand, and they were 
dying! For a second I didn’t say a 
word, just stared from one to another. 
I still remember half seeing the rest 
of the room — a little stove with an 
empty frying pan on it, and a coffee 



percolator; rows and rows of books. 

Lon pulled himself up on one elbow. 
“There can be no mistake,”’ he whis- 
pered, and that’s all it was, a hoarse 
whisper. “We know we have but little 
time in this life. That is why we left. 
Doctor — Doctor Stoner arranged it — 
though he did not realize — how it was 
with us. We would like to see him be- 
fore — we die.” 

Ken, the third little man, sat up, and 
I could see it took a terrific effort. His 
eyes burned out at me like two hot 
coals out of two hollow pits ; coals that 
were burning to ashes. 

“We are old — so terribly old,” he 
croaked, “yet we are so — young. And 
the end is close.” A thin hand pointed 
toward the desk. “There, in the upper 
drawer on that side, is a little book. 
Get it.” 

In a sort of trance I went over to the 
desk, I found the book. 

“That explains things — which 
should be known.” And Ken slumped 
back on the bed. 

“Look,” I said, “isn’t there some- 
thing I can do?” My thoughts were 
going around in circles, but I felt I 
had to do something. 

Ander moved his head from side to 
side. “No one can help us. We know. 
But you can get Doctor Stoner to — 
come here — before we pass on. There 
may be time — if he hurries.” 

I sort of slid toward the door. 
“Okay, okay, I’ll rush,” I said. “I’ll 
get him. Just hang on.” 

The next thing I knew, I was hot- 
footing it up the winding road toward 
the flivver. And, let me tell you, I sent 
that old can rolling like she never 
rolled before. I’d passed through a 
little town about fifteen miles back, 
and I headed that way with the accel- 
erator jammed against the floor-board. 

I guess I reached the place in about 
twenty minutes, though it seemed like 
hours. But I got there, finally, and I 
put in a long distance call for the 
Mawson estate. A cop answered, I 
think. It didn’t take him long to get 
Doc Stoner on the wire when I bel- 
lowed it was a matter of life or death. 

I SPILLED the story to Stoner in a 
few words, but he didn’t even let 



100 



STARTLING STORIES 



me finish. I heard a sort of choking 
cry, then I heard the receiver crash on 
the hook. I got out of there in a hurry. 
I didn’t want to be around when the 
fireworks started. 

You know what happened better 
than I do. Stoner tearing out of the 
mansion like a lunatic, grabbing that 
big Rolls Royce of Mawson’s and roar- 
ing away before anyone could even 
think of stopping him. 

Nobody but Stoner knows what hap- 
pened up to the time the cops arrived, 
about an hour behind him. I have a 
good idea, but it’s only an idea. Any- 
way, when the police got there, as you 
know, Sarge, they found the Doctor 
sitting on a stump in the weed-grown 
garden behind the cabin. And the 
cabin — it was half burned down by 
that time. A little later there were 
only smoking ashes. 

And Doctor Stoner just sat there 
and stared. And he’d only say in a 
sort of dull, dry voice: 

“They’re dead, and that’s their fu- 
neral pyre. No one will ever know.” 

But he didn’t kill ’em, Sarge. I tell 
you, he’s innocent. They just died! 

Here’s how I dope it out, Sarge. 
Oliver P. Mawson was behind the 
whole thing. You ought to be able to 
see that yourself with my telling you 
about that argument I heard. He got 
the big idea when he stumbled across 
Stoner’s cabin while driving through 
the hills up there. Those three little 
guys with their big heads must have 
started his imagination working. 

Huh? Sure, they were there all the 
time. Don’t tell me you fell for that 
time-traveling bunk! Mawson staged 
the whole thing. I’ll bet when you 
check on it, you’ll find he had the 
“time-machine” built in his automobile 
factories. And, of course, since he 
couldn’t very well fake a time-travel- 
ing engine, he had to have that ex- 
plosion to destroy it. It was good 
publicity stuff, too. Made a swell 
spectacle, with a little chemical of 
some sort spilled on the ground. 

It was power he wanted! Power! 
He had so much money he couldn’t 
keep track of it, and that could buy 
quite a bit of power — but not enough. 
He’d been a little guy who had worked 



himself up from nowhere, and it had 
gone to his head. He wanted to be 
dictator of America — and he almost 
got what he was after! 

Sure! With these fake men from 
the future, he planned to have Stoner 
elected to the Presidency, with him- 
self, of course, the power behind the 
throne. And a little later on, with 
those same Three Wise Men paving 
the way, he’d take over the control of 
the government. It was a perfect set- 
up ; only something bigger than 
Oliver P. stepped in. 

Where’d the Three come from? 
That’s where that little black book 
comes in — my ace in the hole. That’s 
what will save Michel Stoner from the 
chair or the bug-house. I’ve got it 
here. It’s Stoner’s diary, with a daily 
record covering the last twenty years. 

Of course I’ll give it to you, Sarge 
— but you can’t read shorthand, can 
you? I can. Listen to this — the first 
entry that interests us, years back: 

March 3, 1930. Ann is dead. It was too 
much for her. God forgive me, but I did all 
a man could do. She was always so frail, 
and those endless hours of travail were more 
than she could bear. What will I do? I can 
hardly see the page before me. And those 
three mites, they’re such pitiful little things. 
Their heads are enormous. Victims of hy- 
drocephalus, obviously. I must save them — 
or her death will be completely futile. 

I ’VE looked up that word “hydro- 
cephalus,” Sarge. It means water 
on the brain. Here’s what a guy 
named Blakeslee says about it. A lot 
of it’s Greek to me, but you’ll get the 
general idea. 

“Hydrocephalus. Fluid effusion within the 
cranium, giving rise to a more or less uni- 
form stretching of the cranial bones. The 
sutures are obviously stretched asunder, ac- 
companied by extreme enlargement of the 
forehead. Frequently the eyes will appear 
misplaced. Sometimes they look very much 
deeper set than normal; in other cases they 
look as though they are depressed, as a re- 
sult of the downward pressure exerted by 
the excess fluid upon the roof of the orbits. 
Major degrees of hydrocephalus cause such 
extreme enlargement of the head, coupled 
with such thinning of the bones and stretch- 
ing of the sutures, that the diagnosis is al- 
most unmistakable . . . 

Here’s the next important entry. 



THREE WISE MEN 



101 



The three boys are still alive, though 
that they can live at all with such inadequate 
treatment is a miracle. I have only canned 
milk and a prepared baby food, and it’s a 
poor substitute for mother’s milk. I buried 
Ann out in the garden beside the stump 
where she liked to sit. There was nothing 
else to do. X can’t leave my three sons 
while life remains in their little bodies. I’ve 
decided to try the glandular treatment advo- 
cated by Gardner for the hydrocephalic con- 
dition. 

There’s no use reading the entries 
for the next few weeks, Sarge. It’s 
touch and go for the three boys. But 
here’s the entry for April 22nd: 

The danger for Andrew, Alonzo and Ken- 
neth is past. They seem almost normal now, 
though they’ll always have abnormally large 
heads. I hope their minds are not affected, 
a definite possibility, since theirs was such 
a severe case. I left them alone for the first 
time today while I drove into town for some 
much needed supplies. 

It goes on that way, Sarge, for about 
seven years. Then you begin to see 
Doc Stoner starting to get sort of wor- 
ried. Something’s wrong with his 
boys. Finally he writes this: 

May 19, 1937. Lord, what a blunder! I’m 
a disgrace to the medical profession. To 
think that this could have happened to my 
own sons! I’ve noticed a strangeness for 
quite some time past, and at last I know 
what it is. Progeria. A glandular ailment 
so obscure that perhaps only a half dozen 
cases have been recorded. The indications 
are almost unmistakable. I’m afraid — no, 
certain — that this condition is the result of 
my treatment for the hydrocephalus. I know 
now that my boys will never be normal, at 
least physically. Mentally they seem far 
above average. Andrew is the most brilliant, 
though all three have truly amazing mem- 
ories. Already they have read and memo- 
rized every book in my library. I’ll have to 



buy more books. Perhaps they may develop 
into brilliant scientists or writers. 

I looked that word “progeria” up, 
too, Sarge, and what a time I had. 
Here’s the little information I got: 

“Progeria is primary, spontaneous infant- 
ism mingled with premature senility. Hence, 
with shortness of stature and other indica- 
tions of infantilism, there are baldness, 
emaciation, arterial sclerosis, and general 
decrepitude. The ear lobule is absent, the 
nasal cartilages are conspicuous, and the fin- 
gers nodose owing to the prominence of the 
epiphyses. Death from angina pectoris or 
other senile disease usually ensues at eight- 
een or earlier.” 

There’s a lot there that I don’t 
understand, Sarge, but I do know this. 
The Three Wise Men were freaks 
built up by those two diseases. They 
looked like men from the future — or, 
at least, like some writers say they’ll 
look. Mawson saw their possibilities, 
talked Stoner into showing them off — 
after all, Stoner was probably proud 
of their brains — and got the doctor to 
go into the thing himself. When he 
saw what it was leading to, he tried 
to back out, but Mawson wouldn’t let 
him. He faked the kidnaping to upset 
Mawson’s plans. 

The three boys, old men at eighteen, 
died of old age. And Stoner, all 
broken up because his sons were dead, 
and probably blaming himself, burned 
their bodies with the cabin, to let them 
keep the little glory that was theirs. 

I’ve spoiled that by telling you this, 
but anyway, I’ve saved him from the 
chair. 

Here’s the diary, Sarge. There’s a 
lot more dope in it. I guess I’d better 
report back to Joe Wallace. 





Thrills l 

I C/^¥T7X1 




SCIENCE 



Thumbnail Sketches of Great Men and Achievements 
By MORT WI ISISGCIi 

THE WORLD WOVIS ON 

T HE vast, soundproof room was as silent as a vault. Its main piece of 
furniture was a long, oaken table. On it a pair of slender, crooked can- 
dles flickered eerily, casting weird shadows on the walls. 

Around the table sat six masked men. Behind the black masks a dozen 
gleaming eyes blazed angrily. The six pairs of eyes had a common human tar- 
get — the nervous, bearded astronomer standing before them. 

The seventh man, Galileo de Galilei, stared apprehensively into the tapering 
flame of one of the candles. As the blue-white tongue licked and writhed in a 
dance of light, the bearded astronomer 



seemed to see an image form there. A tall, 
defiant figure resolved itself into view. It 
was a human being, lashed to the stake. His 
captors, thin-lipped, cruel, stood by impas- 
sively, heaping fuel to the fire. Savagely the 
roaring flames enveloped their victim in a 
fiery shroud . . . and soon the corpse was 
as charred as the wooden stake to which it 
had been fettered. 

Galileo mopped his feverish brow and 
stared hopelessly about the great room as 
he strove to forget the vivid picture recalled 
to his mind. So they had burned Giordane 
Bruno, an astronomer before him, at the 
stake. For Bruno had dared to teach the 
heretic theory that the Earth is not immov- 
ably fixed in the center of the Universe, that 
the Earth was not the big shot of the Solar 
System. That belief was contrary to the 
teachings of science. And, most important, 
it refuted the Bible. So the law had decreed 
that Bruno, the free-thinker, must burn. 

Galileo’s eyes shifted pleadingly over the 
faces of the masked men surrounding the 
table. He encountered only blank, stony 
stares. Still not a word had been uttered 
by anyone. 

Galileo bit his lip. If they had burned 
Bruno at the stake for daring to tell the 
truth . . . such a little bit of the truth . . . 
what would happen to him? His discoveries 
revolutionized all existing concepts of 
astronomy. They proved to the world that 
the Universe was vast, cluttered with count- 
less stars and planets and satellites. And the 
Earth was merely a cosmic drop in the 
bucket, Man — man was nothing — as unim- 
portant as a grain of sand in the ocean’s bed. 
And if man was nothing — what was the 
power of the Church? That was why they 
would destroy him. 

Galileo shifted the weight of his body 



from one foot to the other. Would that he 
had never constructed his telescope, ex- 
plored the mysteries of the heavens, studied 
the revolutions of the neighboring planets. 

Most certainly, Galileo would unhesitat- 
ingly have given up his life rather than have 




■ * y* 



Galileo de Galilei 



foregone the thrills his magic optical tube 
had captured for him. The thrill of being 
the first man to discover sun spots . . . the 
first man to see Saturn’s Rings . . . Jupiter’s 
four largest satellites. . . . 

But Galileo lived in the dreaded and dark 
days of the Inquisition. Sweet, merciful 
death he could face swiftly, even eagerly. 
He could die for his principles. But how 
many men can brave the ghastly unknown? 
The insidious, diabolical tortures of a group 



102 



of fanatics, expert in wrenching from a hu- 
man body its most inner secret, its last audi- 
ble breath. Galileo had seen some of the 
poor, miserable wretches that had survived 
the torturers’ arts. Not a pretty sight. And 
now he himself stood before the leaders of 
the Inquisition, awaiting judgment. 

“Galileo de Galilei,” the chief counsellor 
addressed him, “we have examined your 
books minutely. We have been deeply 
shocked by the falsehoods contained there- 
in, and we have come to the conclusion that 
your teachings are vicious blasphemies, en- 
tirely unsupported by scientific findings!” 

The masked counsellor paused for a mo- 
ment, the better to let his dramatic accusa- 
tion seep into the fogged brain of his de- 
fendant . . . the defendant who didn’t have 
a chance. 

“Falsehoods?” Galileo roared back at his 
accuser. “Unsupported findings? I have 
stated that the world revolves about the sun 
on its own axis — just as I have seen is the 
case with the satellites circling Jupiter. The 
sun does not circle the Earth every twenty- 
four hours. Such an immense orbit is ab- 
surd!” 

“Silence!” thundered the voice of the 
leader. “You lie. And unless you confess 
your errors and renounce your writings for 
all the world to know — ” He gestured mean- 
ingly in the direction of the adjacent room — 
the torture chamber. 

Galileo shuddered. Then he sucked in his 



breath, clenched his fists. He’d t^ell them— 
The chief counsellor leaned forward, di- 
vining Galileo’s forthcoming outburst. 

“Think, Galileo de Galilei,” he warned. 
“Not the stake — not the ax — but the tor- 
turers. . . . Swear by God that your teach- 
ings are false, that the Earth does not move 
about the sun, and you will go free!” 

Galileo buried his face in his hands. He 
was trapped. Slowly, hoarsely, he began his 
denial of a lifetime’s work. Staring wrath- 
fully at his Inquisitors, he told them: 

“I swear that all my teachings are false 
. . . I beg foregiveness for having deceived 
my fellow men . . . The Earth does not 
move about the sun. . . .” 

A cold, superior smile illumined the gaunt 
features of the masked men’s leader. 

“You are forgiven, Galileo,” he said. “And 
heed well that you do not blaspheme again.” 
Galileo stifled an oath, half-pivoted about 
and faced the wall. 

“EPPUR SI MOUVE”— “None the less, 
the planet moves,” he muttered almost in- 
audibly, his face livid with rage. And then 
the astronomer bowed mockingly to his 
audience and walked into the clean air out- 
side. 

Had they heard him? If they had, tfcen he 
had won. If they hadn’t, he’d lost. But win 
or lose, Galileo knew that future civilization 
would reach a verdict in his favor. For the 
world moves — on! 



LABORATORY LIFE 

T HE olive-skinned Luigi Galvani pointed an acid-stained finger at the 
metal tray on his laboratory desk. A dead, dissected frog lay there, its 
ventral surface neatly split open, all the vital organs exposed to view. 
Professor Galvani lifted a scalpel from the machine to his left, tapped it against 



the wooden desk, and addressed his 
“Now watch closely, Signor Volta,” 
experiment you have read about. I know it 
sounds incredible. But you will soon see for 
yourself!” 

“Wait one moment,” interrupted Alessan- 
dro Volta. He lifted the tray gingerly, care- 
fully inspected the base. Nothing suspicious 
there. There was no need to examine the 
frog. It was as dead as the lamb they had 
had for dinner. 

Volta shook his head at his smiling Italian 
colleague. “All right, go ahead,” he grum- 
bled at last. “Begin your experiment.” 
Silently, Professor Galvani waved his scal- 
el before his curious associate. Then he 
rought its shining, sharp point in contact 
with one of the strandlike nerves in the 
frog’s left leg. 

Instantly, the lifeless frog’s leg kicked out, 
twitched convulsively. The leg had moved 
perceptibly, although the frog had been dead 
for days! 

Alessandro Volta’s eyes bulged at the phe- 
nomenon, as though the same scalpel had 
hysically stimulated him too. He shook his 
pad, totally perplexed. 

“Do it with the other leg, please,” he said 
incredulously. 

Again the blade swooped down to inter- 



c-haired companion. 

he said confidently. “I will repeat the 

sect a fibrous filament of nerve. This time 
the right leg of the frog stabbed out in a 




Alessandro Volta 



healthy, violent kick. It was uncanny. 

“I can’t understand it,” Volta muttered. 
“Pray, Professor, how do you explain this?” 
Professor Galvani smiled wisely, put back 
the scalpel on the machine on his left, put 
an arm about his friend’s shoulder. 

“It’s simple, Alessandro,” he explained. 
“Electricity exists in the tissues of the dead 
frog. My scalpel merely touches off that 
stored electricity, releases it in the form of 
energy in the frog’s body. The electricity 
goes through the nerves of the frog’s legs, 
results in a reflex action — a kick.” 

“In other words, you believe that the body 
of a dead frog contains electricity?” 

“Si, my friend. That is it, exactly. All 
animals carry electricity.” 

“Do you know what I think?” Volta asked 
rhetorically. “I think your theory is prepos- 
terous. Electricity can only be produced by 
the contact of two different metals. That is 
a fact of which I am certain. You cannot 
convince me otherwise.” 

Professor Galvani smiled amusedly. 
“Then how do you explain what you have 
just seen? That was no trick. And I assure 
you that the frog was one pretty dead fel- 
low!” 

Volta shrugged his wide shoulders. 

“That I cannot answer, my friend,” he said 
good-naturedly. “But I’ll discover the an- 
swer — just as sure as this is the year 1800!” 
Alessandro Volta left his friend’s house, a 
deep problem haunting his energetic mind. 
The evidence he had seen for himself was 
no optical illusion. Certainly there was no 
supernatural explanation. There must be 
some good scientific reason to explain why 
a cold, dead frog should be able to kick vig- 
orously. 

Galvani’s explanation he immediately dis- 
carded. Galvani was an anatomy professor 
who had only recently begun to dabble with 
electricity. And Volta knew from his many 
personal experiences that his associate’s the- 
ory was much too far-fetched. 

What then was the answer? He was baf- 
fled. It remained a mystery. 

The weeks sped by . . . became months. 
But Volta had not forgotten. 

Then, one day in his own laboratory, 
Volta suddenly realized the solution. The 
answer to the problem that had been 
plaguing him was simple. So simple it had 
eluded everyone’s notice, even Galvani’s. 
The answer was this: In recalling the de- 



tails of Galvani’s experiment to mind, a 
scene he could never forget, Volta remem- 
bered that the professor had picked up the 
scalpel used to contact the frog’s nerves 
from its lodging place — a machine! 

That was the one smashing clue Volta 
needed to shatter Galvani’s theory into 
Kmbo. If his deductions were right, then 
Galvani was wrong by a light-year. But first 
he would have to find out more about this 
machine. . . . 

Back in Galvani’s laboratory, Volta beck- 
oned his amazed friend to his desk. He 
pointed to the machine standing beside it. 

“What kind of machine is this. Professor 
Galvani?” he asked, his deep black eyes 
sparkling. 

“Why, it’s an electrical machine. I’ve been 
using it to make static electricity. Why do 
you ask?” 

'“Ah!” Volta exclaimed. “So I am right! 
Your scalpel rests on this machine. Obvi- 
ously, the scalpel is electrified with some of 
the electricity stored in the machine. It is 
this electricity, transferred to the scalpel, 
that activates the frog’s legs — not the release 
of ‘electricity’ in the frog’s body! You’ve 
never realized this truth, my friend!” 

Galvani frowned, started to protest. 

“Wait, let us touch your frog with MY 
scalpel!” suggested Volta. And before the 
bewildered Galvani could protest, Volta had 
raced over to a jar, extracted a dead frog, 
split it in two, and applied his scalpel. There 
was no reaction. Volta had proved his re- 
jection of Galvani’s theory. 

Inspired and thrilled by his analytical 
abilities, Volta used his discovery as the 
basis toward proving his own theory — that 
electricity is produced by metals. By con- 
necting a series of two different metal discs, 
copper and zinc, separated by a piece of 
cloth soaked in sulphuric acid and water, he 
obtained a weak electric current — the first 
man ever to accomplish that feat in such a 
manner. 

Next Volta joined a larger series of these 
metals and obtained a stronger flow of elec- 
tricity. Volta had invented what was to be 
known as the “voltaic pile,” forerunner of 
the modern storage battery! And all the 
result of a pair of twitching frog’s legs! A 
pair of legs that will be remembered as long 
as the “volt” remains a key term in modern 
electricity. 



RACING AGAINST LIGHT! 

P ROFESSOR ALBERT ABRAHAM MICHELSON tried to be calm, but 
instead he trembled. How could one be calm and cool when the most 
delicate experiment in the annals of science was about to be attempted? 
The year was 1887. Several years before, Michelson had startled the scien- 
tific world by measuring the velocity of light, the fastest element in the uni- 
verse, to an inconceivably accurate degree. He had shuttled a beam of light 
back and forth between two mountain tops 



in California, measuring its speed with a sen- 
sitive instrument, the interferometer, his 
own invention. 

But that had been child’s play compared 
to what he now attempted. He was trying 
to detect the infinitesimal influence on the 



velocity of light caused by the Earth’s mo- 
tion through free space. Hendrik Lorentz, 
the famous European physicist, had calcu- 
lated theoretically that this would be no 
more than 0.00001 of the actual light-speed! 
And Michelson had declared that he could 



104 



measure that effect with his instruments, 
verifying Lorentz’s calculations. 

Michelson was crazy 1 His task was im- 
possible ! That was the opinion of the Euro- 
pean men of science. True, Michelson had 
won their respect by his ingenious method 
of clocking the speed of light. But now he 
was making a fool of himself. He had over- 
estimated his mechanical technique, as those 




Albert Abraham Michelson 



Americans were so prone to do. He was try- 
ing to play God and command light to stand 
still for him, as Joshua, a leader of Michel- 
son’s own race, had commanded the sun to 
halt, an age before. 

“You must be more calm, Professor!” ad- 



monished Morley, his assistant. “Why, 
you're shaking all over!” 

Michelson nodded grimly, controlling him- 
self. By nature he was genial, smiling, but 
now he was a tense bundle of nerves. The 
experiment was started. A powerful light 
beam was sent through a series of mirrors 
mounted on a stone platform floating in a 
bath of oily liquid mercury. 

A turntable operated by a powerful com- 
pressed-air motor periodically swung the 
entire apparatus at right angles, easily, ef- 
fortlessly. Michelson had spent mind- 
draining months designing the various parts 
with a precision unknown before in the his- 
tory of physics. 

Finally the moment arrived and Michel- 
son’s taut fingers adjusted the eyepiece of 
the interferometer. Twin beams of light 
from the mirrors speared into the instru- 
ment. One went in the direction of Earth’s 
orbital motion. The other went transversely 
to that motion. The latter, going ACROSS 
the ether through which Earth drifted, 
should lag a little from the one following 
the ether. And his interferometer would 
then show the difference, by the interfer- 
ence of bands of light and dark. 

Michelson’s reputation balanced precari- 
ously on the results his instrument would 
record. All the scientific world waited, many 
with derisive smiles, to see whether the 
brash American could accomplish what the 
Europeans had not even tried — because it 
was impossible. Michelson’s soul, as well as 
his eyes, probed the interferometer that day. 
And he saw — 

Nothing! 

Not the slightest interference! He tried 
again, checking every motion, every screw, 
bolt and mirror. Apparently, the apparatus 
(Concluded on page 128 ) 



“I TALKED WITH GOD” 

(yes, I did — actually and literally) 



and as a result of that little talk with God a 
strange Power came into my life. After 42 years 
of horrible, dismal, sickening failure, everything 
took on a brighter hue. It’s fascinating to talk 
with God, and it can be done very easily once 
you learn the secret. And when you do — well 
— there will come into your life the same 
dynamic Power which came into mine. The 
shackles of defeat which bound me for years 
went a-shimmering — and now — ? — well, I own 
control of the largest daily newspaper in our 
County, I own the largest office building in our 
City, I drive a beautiful Cadillac limousine, I 
own my own home which has a lovely pipe-organ 
in it, and my family are abundantly provided 
for after I’m gone. And all this has been made 
possible because one day, ten years ago, I actu- 
ally and literally talked with God. 

You, too, may experience that strange mysti- 
cal Power which comes from talking with God, 
and when you do, if there is poverty, unrest, 



unhappiness, or ill-health in your life, well — 
this same God-Power is able to do for you what 
it did for me. No matter how useless or helpless 
your life seems to be — all this can be changed. 
For this is not a human Power I’m talking about 
— it’s a God-Power. And there can be no limita- 
tions to the God-Power, can there? Of course 
not. You probably would like to know how you, 
too, may talk with God, so that this same Power 
which brought me these good things might come 
into your life, too. Well — just write a letter or 
a post-card to Dr. Frank B. Robinson, Dept. 
711-11, Moscow, Idaho, and full particulars of 
this Strange Teaching will be sent to you free 
of charge. But write now — while you are in the 
mood. It only costs one cent to find out, and this 
might easily be, the most profitable one cent you 
have ever spent. It may sound unbelievable — 
but it’s true, or I wouldn’t tell you it was. — 
Advt. Copyright, 1939, Frank B. Robinson. 



105 



THE FIRST STORY EVER WRITTEN 



A MARTIAN 
ODYSSIV 



By STANLEY C. WEI N BALM 

Author of “The Black Flame,” “Dawn of Flame,” etc. 



D ICK JARVIS stretched himself as lux- 
uriously as he could in the cramped 
general quarters of the Ares. 

“Air you can breathe!” he exulted. “It 
feels as thick as soup after the thin stuff 
out there!” He nodded at the Martian land- 
scape stretching flat and desolate in the light 
of the nearer moon, beyond the glass of the 
port. 

The other three stared at him sympatheti- 
cally — Schatz, the engineer, Leroy, the bi- 
ologist, and Harrison, the astronomer and 
captain of the expedition. 

Dick Jarvis was chemist of the famous 



SCIENTIFICTION 



HALL n 

OF 

FAME 




EDITOR'S NOTE: Some stories are forgotten 
almost as soon as they are printed. Others 
stand the test of time. 

Because "A Martian Odyssey,” by Stanley G. 
Weinbaum, has stood this test, we are nominat- 
ing it for SCIENTI FICTION'S HALL OF FAME. 

In each issue we will nominate — and reprint 
— another favorite of the past. 

Will you vote for your favorite? Write and 
tell us what it is. 

We hope in this way to bring a new promi- 
nence to the science fiction gems of yesterday 
and to perform a real service for the science 
fiction devotees of today and tomorrow. 



crew, the Ares expedition, first human be- 
ings to set foot on the mysterious neighbor 
of the Earth, the planet Mars. This, of 
course, was in the old days, less than twenty 
years after the mad American, Doheny, per- 
fected the atomic blast at the cost of his life, 
and only a decade after the equally mad 
Cardoza rode on it to the moon. 

They were true pioneers, these four of the 
Ares. Except for a half-dozen moon ex- 
peditions and the ill-fated de Lancey flight 
aimed at the seductive orb of Venus, they 
were the first men to feel other gravity than 
Earth’s, and certainly the first successful 
crew to leave the Earth-moon system. And 
they deserved that success when one con- 
siders the difficulties and discomforts — the 
months spent in acclimatization chambers 
back on Earth, learning to breathe air as ten- 
uous as that of Mars, the challenging of the 
void in the tiny rocket driven by the cranky 
reaction motors of the twenty-first century, 
and mostly the facing of an absolutely un- 
known world. 

Jarvis stretched again and fingered the 
raw and peeling tip of his frost-bitten nose. 
He sighed again contentedly. 

“Well,” exploded Harrison abruptly, “are 
we going to hear what happened? You set 
out all shipshape in an auxiliary rocket, we 
don’t get a peep for ten days, and finally 
Schatz here picks you out of a lunatic ant- 
heap with a freak ostrich as your pal. Spill 
it, man!” 

“‘Speel’?’’ queried Leroy perplexedly. 
“Speel what?” 

“He means ‘spiel’,” explained Schatz 
soberly. “It iss to tell.” 

Jarvis met Harrison’s amused glance with- 
out the shadow of a smile. 

“That’s right, Karl,” he said in grave 
agreement with Schatz. “Ich spiel esl” He 
grunted comfortably and began. 

“According to orders,” he said, “I watched 
Karl here take off toward the North, and 
then I got into my flying sweat-box, and 
headed South. I set the two cameras clicking 
and buzzed along, riding pretty high, call- 
ing back my position every hour, and not 
knowing whether you heard me.” 

“I did,” snapped Harrison. 



106 



BY SCIENTIFICTION'S CHEAT MASTER? 




out suddenly things came drifting along — small, transparent spheres 



/ft HUNDRED and fifty miles south,” 
■i*. continued Jarvis imperturbably, “the 
surface changed to a sort of low plateau, 
nothing but desert and orange-tinted sand. 
I figured that we were right in our guess, 
then, and this gray plain we dropped on was 
really the Mare Cimmerium which would 
make my orange desert the region called 
Xanthus. If I were right, I ought to hit an- 
other gray plain, the Mare Chronium, in an- 
other couple of hundred miles, and then an- 
other orange desert, Thyle I or II. And so 
I did.” 

“Schatz verified our position a week and a 
half ago!” grumbled the captain. “Let’s get 
to the point.” 

“Coming!” remarked Jarvis. “Twenty 



miles into Thyle — believe it or not — I 
crossed a canal!” 

“Schatz photographed a hundred! Let’s 
hear something new!” 

“And did he also see a city?” 

“Twenty of ’em, if you call those heaps 
of mud, cities!” 

“Well,’’ observed Jarvis, “from here on 
I’ll be telling a few things Schatz didn’t see!” 
He rubbed his tingling nose, and continued. 
“I knew that I had sixteen hours of daylight 
at this season, so eight hours — eight hundred 
miles— from here, I decided to turn back. 
I was still over Thyle, whether I or II I’m 
not sure, not more than twenty-five miles 
into it. And right there, Schatz’s pet motor 
quit!” 



A Dying Orb Yields Its Eternal Secret! 



107 





STARTLING STORIES 



108 



‘Qvit? How?” Schatz was solicitous. 

"The atomatic blast got weak. I started 
losing altitude right away, and suddenly 
there I was with a thump right in the middle 
of Thyle! Smashed my nose on the window, 
too!” He rubbed the injured member rue- 
fully. 

“Did you maybe try vashing der combus- 
tion chamber mit acid sulphuric?” inquired 
Schatz. “Sometimes der lead giffs a second- 
ary reaction — ” 

“Naw!” said Jarvis disgustedly. “I 
wouldn’t try that, of course — not more than 
ten times! Besides, the bump flattened the 
landing gear and busted off the under-jets.” 
He rubbed his nose again. “Lucky for me a 
pound only weighs seven ounces here, or I’d 
have been mashed flat!” 

“I could have fixed!” ejaculated the en- 
gineer. “I bet it vas not serious.” 

“Probably not,” agreed Jarvis sarcastical- 
ly. “Only it wouldn’t fly. Anyway, I rigged 
up a harness from some seat straps, and put 
the water tank on my back, took a cartridge 
belt and revolver, and some iron rations, and 
started out on shank’s mare.” 

“Water tank!” exclaimed the little biolo- 
gist, Leroy. “She weigh one-quarter ton!” 
“Wasn’t full. Weighed about two hundred 
and fifty pounds Earth-weight, which is 
eighty-five here. Of course, I took a thermo- 
skin sleeping bag for these wintry Martian 
nights.” 

“Off I went, bouncing along pretty 
quickly. Eight hours of daylight meant 
twenty miles or more. It got tiresome, of 
course — plugging along over a soft sand 
desert with nothing to see, not even Leroy’s 
crawling biopods. But an hour or so brought 
me to the canal — just a dry ditch about four 
hundred feet wide, and straight as a railroad 
on its own company map. 

“There’d been water in it sometime, 
though. The ditch was covered with what 
looked like a nice green lawn. Only, as I 
approached, the lawn moved out of my 
way!” 



4^'jC'H?” said Leroy. 

JEk “Yeah; it was a relative of your 
biopods. I caught one — a little grasslike 
blade about as long as my finger, with two 
thin, stemmy legs. 

“He is where?” Leroy was eager. 

“He is let go ! I had to move, so I plowed 
along with the walking grass opening in 
front and closing behind. 

“It was just before twilight that I reached 
the edge of Thyle, and looked down over the 
gray Mare Chronium. And I knew there 
was seventy-five miles of that to be walked 
over, and then a couple of hundred miles of 
that Xanthus desert, and about as much 
more Mare Cimmerium. Was I pleased? I 
cussed you fellows for not picking me up!” 

“We were trying, you sap!” said Harrison. 

“That didn’t help. Well, I figured I might 
as well use what was. left of daylight in get- 
ting down the cliff that bounded Thyle. Up 
to that time, you know, I hadn’t seen any- 
thing worth worrying about on this half- 



dead world — nothing dangerous, that is.” 
“Did you?” queried Harrison. 

“Did I! You’ll hear about it when I come 
to it. Well, I was just about to turn in when 
suddenly I heard the wildest sort of shenani- 
gans!” 

“Vot iss shenanigans?” inquired Schatz. 
“He say, ‘Je ne sais quoi,’ * explained Le- 
roy. “It is to say, ‘I don’t know what.’ ” 
“That’s right,” agreed Jarvis. “I didn’t 
know what, so I sneaked over to find out. 
There was a racket like a flock of crows eat- 
ing a bunch of canaries — whistles, cackles, 
caws, trills, and what have you. I rounded 
a clump of stumps, and there was Tweel !” 
“Tweel?” said Harrison, and “Tveel?” said 
Leroy and Schatz. 

“That freak ostrich,” explained the nar- 
rator. “At least, Tweel is as near as I can 
pronounce it without sputtering. He called 
it something like ‘Trrrweerrlll’.” 

“What was he doing?” asked the captain. 
“He was being eaten! And squealing, of 
course, as any one would.” 

“Eaten! By what?” 

“I found out later. All I could see then 
was a bunch of black ropy arms tangled 
around what looked like, as Schatz described 
it to you, an ostrich. I wasn't going td inter- 
fere, naturally; if both creatures were dan- 
gerous, I’d have one less to worry about. 

“But the bird-like thing was putting up a 
good battle, dealing vicious blows with an 
eighteen-inch beak, between screeches. And 
besides, I caught a glimpse or two of what 
was on the end of those arms !” Jarvis shud- 
dered. “But the clincher was when I no- 
ticed a little black bag or case hung about 
the neck of the bird-thing! It was intelli- 
gent! That, or tame, I assumed. Anyway, 
it clinched my decision. I pulled out my 
automatic and fired into what I could see of 
its antagonist. 

“There was a flurry of tentacles and a spurt 
of black corruption, and then the thing, with 
a disgusting sucking noise, pulled itself and 
its arms into a hole in the ground. The 
other let out a series of clacks, staggered 
around on legs about as thick as golf sticks, 
and turned suddenly to face me. I held my 
weapon ready, and the two of us stared at 
each other. 

“The Martian wasn’t a bird, really. It 
wasn’t even birdlike, except just at first 
glance. It had a beak all right, and a few 
feathery appendages, but the beak wasn’t 
really a beak. It was somewhat flexible; I 
could see the tip bend slowly from side to 
side; it was almost like a cross between a 
beak and a trunk. It had four-toed feet, and 
four-fingered things — hands, you have to call 
them, and a little roundish body, and a long 
neck ending in a tiny head — and that beak. 
It stood an inch or so taller than I, and — 
well, Schatz saw it!” 

The engineer nodded. “Yah! I saw!” 
Jarvis continued. “So — we stared at each 
other. Finally the creature went into a series 
of clackings and twitterings and held out its 
hands toward me, empty. I took that as a 



A MARTIAN ODYSSEY 



109 



gesture of friendship.” 

“Perhaps,” suggested Harrison, “it looked 
at that nose of yours and thought you were 
its brother!” 

“Huh! You can be funny without talking! 
Anyway, I put up my gun and said, ‘Aw, 
don’t mention it,’ or something of the sort, 
and the thing came over and we were pals. 

that time, the sun was pretty low 
and I knew I’d better build a fire. 
I started breaking off chunks of this desic- 
cated Martian vegetation, and my compan- 
ion caught the idea and brought in an arm- 
ful. I reached for a match, but the Martian 
fished into his pouch and brought out some- 
thing that looked like a glowing coal; one 
touch of it, and the fire was blazing — and 
you all know what a job we have starting a 
fire in this atmosphere ! 



“We just couldn’t connect! I tried ‘rock,’ 
and I tried ‘star,’ and ‘tree,’ and ‘fire,’ and 
Lord knows what else, and try as I would, 
I couldn’t get a single word! Nothing was 
the same for two successive minutes, and if 
that’s a language, I’m an alchemist! Finally 
I gave it up and called him Tweel, and that 
seemed to do. 

“But Tweel hung on to some of my words. 
He remembered a couple of them, which I 
suppose is a great achievement if you’re used 
to a language you have to make up as you 
go along. But I couldn’t get the hang of 
his talk; either I missed some subtle point 
or we just didn’t think alike — and I rather 
believe the latter view. 

“After a while I gave up the language 
business, and tried mathematics. I scratched 
two plus two equals four on the ground, 
and demonstrated it with pebbles. Again 



CL (piom&A. j ofi, SdoniJ^idwn, 

SJ9 ERE'S the story that revolutionized scientifiction! Prior 
to the publication of Stanley G. Weinbaum's first story, 

A MARTIAN ODYSSEY, all the interplanetary stories were 
ruled by one dominant concept — that future explorers will 
step into another world and find conditions there similar 
to those on Earth. Authors usually pictured alien human 
beings with two feet and two legs, two eyes, etc., just as is 
the case on Earth, although the chances are not one in a 
million that such conditions will prevail. 

Stanley G. Weinbaum, fully conscious of this thought, 
smashed these precepts in his first tale. He presented his 
own startling array of interplanetary life-forms — strange or- 
ganisms evolved by strange environments. 

A MARTIAN ODYSSEY is more than a great story. It is 
the forerunner of stories to come and it will be forever 
identified with the memory of Stanley G. Weinbaum. Stanley G. Weinbaum 




“And that bag of his!” continued the nar- 
rator. “That was a manufactured article, 
my friends; press an end and she popped 
open — press the middle, and she sealed so 
perfectly you couldn’t see the line. Better 
than zippers. 

“Well, we stared at the fire for a while 
and I decided to attempt some sort of com- 
munication with the Martian. I pointed at 
myself and said ‘Dick.’ He caught the drift 
immediately, stretched a bony claw at me 
and repeated ‘Tick.’ Then I pointed at him, 
and he gave that whistle I called Tweel; I 
can’t imitate his accent. Things were going 
smoothly; to emphasize the names, I re- 
peated ‘Dick,’ and then, pointing at him, 
‘Tweel.’ 

“There we stuck! He gave some clacks 
that sounded negative, and said something 
like ‘P-p-p-proot.’ And that was just the 
beginning; I was always ‘Tick,’ but as for 
him — part of the time he was ‘Tweel,’ and 
part of the time he was ‘P-p-p-proot,’ and 
part of the time he was sixteen other noises ! 



Tweel caught the idea, and informed me that 
three plus three equals six. Once more we 
seemed to be getting somewhere. 

“So, knowing that Tweel had at least a 
grammar school education, I drew a circle 
for the sun, pointing first at it, and then at 
the last glow of the sun. Then I sketched 
Mercury, and Venus, and Mother Earth, 
and Mars, and finally, pointing to Mars, I 
swept my hand around in a sort of inclusive 
gesture to indicate that Mars was our cur- 
rent environment. I was working up to put- 
ting over the idea that my home was on the 
Earth. 

“Tweel understood my diagram all right. 
He poked his beak at it, and with a great 
deal of trilling and clucking, he added Dei- 
mos and Phobos to Mars, and then sketched 
in the Earth’s moon! 

“Do you see what that proves? It proves 
that Tweel’s race uses telescopes — that 
they’re civilized!” 

“Does not!” snapped Harrison. “The 
moon is visible from here as a fifth magni- 




110 



STARTLING STORIES 



tude star. They could see its revolutions 
with the naked eye.” 

“The moon, yes!” said Jarvis. “You’ve 
missed my point. Mercury isn’t visible! And 
Tweel knew of Mercury because he placed 
the moon at the third planet, not the second. 
If he didn’t know Mercury, he’d put the 
Earth second, and Mars third, instead of 
fourth! See?” 

“Humph!” said Harrison. 

“Anyway,” proceeded Jarvis, “I went on 
with my lesson. Things were going 
smoothly, and it looked as if I could put the 
idea over. I pointed at the Earth on my 
diagram, and then at myself, and then, to 
clinch it, I pointed to myself and then to 
the Earth itself shining bright green almost 
at the zenith. 

“Tweel set up such an excited clacking 
that I was certain he understood. He jumped 
up and down, and suddenly he pointed at 
himself and then at the sky, and then at 
himself and at the sky again. He pointed 
at his middle and then at Arcturus, at his 
head and then at Spica, at his feet and then 
at half a dozen stars, while I just gaped at 
him. 

HEN, all of a sudden, he gave a tre- 
mendous leap. Man, what a hop ! He 
shot straight up into the starlight, seventy- 
five feet if an inch! I saw him silhouetted 
against the sky, saw him turn and come 
down at me head first, and land smack on 
his beak like a javelin! There he stuck, 
square in the center of my sun-circle in the 
sand — a bull’s-eye!” 

“Nuts!” observed the captain. “Plain 
nuts!” 

“That’s what I thought, too ! I just stared 
at him open-mouthed while he pulled his 
head out of the sand and stood up. Then I 
figured he’d missed my point, and I went 
through the whole blamed rigmarole again, 
and it ended the same way, with Tweel on 
his nose in the middle of my picture!” 

“Maybe it’s a religious rite,” suggested 
Harrison. 

“Maybe,” said Jarvis dubiously. “Well, 
there we were. We could exchange ideas 
up to a certain point, and then — blooey! 
Something in us was different, unrelated; I 
don’t doubt that Tweel thought me just as 
screwy as I thought him. Our minds simply 
looked at the world from different view- 
points, and perhaps his viewpoint is as true 
as ours. But — we couldn’t get together, 
that’s all. Yet, in spite of all difficulties, I 
liked Tweel, and I have a queer certainty 
that he liked me.” 

“Nuts!” repeated the captain. “Just daffy!” 

“Anyway, I finally gave it up, and got into 
my thermo-skin to sleep. The fire hadn’t 
kept me any too warm, but that damn sleep- 
ing bag did. Got stuffy five minutes after I 
closed myself in. I opened it a little and 
bingo! Some eighty-below-zero air hit my 
nose, and that’s when I got this pleasant lit- 
tle frostbite to add to the bump I acquired 
during the crash of my rocket. 

“I don’t know what Tweel made of my 



sleeping. He sat around, but when I woke 
up, he was gone. I’d just crawled out of my 
bag, though, when I heard some twittering, 
and there he came, sailing down from that 
three-story Thyle cliff to alight on his beak 
beside me. I pointed to myself and toward 
the north, and he pointed at himself and 
toward the south, but when I loaded up and 
started away, he came along. 

“Man, how he traveled — a hundred and 
fifty feet at a jump, sailing through the air 
stretched out like a spear, and landing on 
his beak. He seemed surprised at my plod- 
ding, but after a few moments he fell in be- 
side me, only every few minutes he’d go into 
one of his leaps, and stick his nose into the 
sand a block ahead of me. Then he’d come 
shooting back at me; it kept me nervous at 
first to see that beak of his coming at me 
like a spear, but he always ended in the sand 
at my side. 

“So the two of us plugged along across 
the Mare Chronium. We talked — not that 
we understood each other, you know, but 
just for company. I sang songs, and I sus- 
pect Tweel did too; at least, some of his 
trillings and twitterings had a subtle sort of 
rhythm. 

“Then, for variety, Tweel would display 
his smattering of English words. He’d point 
to an outcropping and say ‘rock,’ and point 
to a pebble and say it again; or he’d touch 
,my arm and say ‘Tick,’ and then repeat 'it. 
He seemed terrifically amused that the same 
word meant the same thing twice in succes- 
sion, or that the same word could apply to 
two different objects. It set me wondering 
if perhaps his language wasn’t like the primi- 
tive speech of some Earth people — you know. 
Captain, like the Negritos, for instance, who 
haven’t any generic words. No word for 
food or water or man, but words for good 
food and bad food, or rain water and sea 
water, or strong man and weak man — but no 
names for general classes. They’re too primi- 
tive to understand that rain water and sea 
water are just different aspects of the same 
thing. But that wasn’t the case with Tweel; 
is was just that we were somehow mysteri- 
ously different — our minds were alien to 
each other. And yet — we liked each other!” 

“Looney, that’s all,” remarked Harrison. 
“That’s why you two were so fond of each 
other.” 

"Well, I like you!” countered Jarvis wick- 
edly. “Anyway,” he resumed, “don’t over- 
look the point that he managed to under- 
stand a little of my mental workings, while 
I never even got a glimmering of his.” 

“Because he didn’t have any!” suggested 
the captain, while Schatz and Leroy blinked 
attentively. 

££^ r OU can judge of that when I’m 
through,” said Jarvis. “Well, we 
plugged along across the Mare Chronium. 
Mare Chronium — Sea of Time! It was so 
monotonous that I was even glad to see the 
desert of Xanthus toward the evening of the 
second day. 

“I was fair worn out, but Tweel seemed 




A MARTIAN ODYSSEY 



111 



as fresh as ever, for all I never saw him drink 
or eat. I offered him some water once or 
twice; he took the cuo from me and sucked 
the liquid into his beak, and then carefully 
squirted it all back into the cup and gravely 
returned it. 

“Just as we sighted Xanthus, or the cliffs 
that bounded it, one of those nasty sand 
clouds blew along, not as bad as the one 
we had here, but mean to travel against. 
After the sand storm blew over, a little wind 
kept blowing in our faces, not strong enough 
to stir the sand. But suddenly things came 
drifting along from the Xanthus cliffs — 
small, transparent spheres, for all the world 
like glass tennis balls ! But light — they were 
almost light enough to float even in this thin 
air — empty, too. I cracked open a couple 
and nothing came out but a bad smell. I 
asked Tweel about them, but all he said was 
‘No, no, no,’ which I took to mean that he 
knew nothing about them. So they went 
bouncing about like tumbleweeds, or like 
soap bubbles, and we plugged on toward 
Xanthus. Tweel pointed at one of the crys- 
tal balls once and said ‘rock,’ but I was too 
tired to argue with him. Later I discovered 
what he meant. 

“We came to the bottom of the Xanthus 
cliffs finally, when there wasn’t much day- 
light left. We were ambling around the base 
of the Xanthus barrier looking for an easy 
spot to climb. At least, I was. Tweel could 
have leaped it easily, for the cliffs were 
lower than Thyle — perhaps sixty feet. I 
found a place and started up, swearing at 
the water tank strapped to my back — it 
didn’t bother me except when climbing — and 
suddenly I heard a sound that I thought I 
recognized! 

“You know how deceptive sounds are in 
this thin air. A shot sounds like the pop of 
a cork. But this sound was the drone of a 
rocket, and sure enough, there went our sec- 
ond auxiliary about ten miles to westward, 
between me and the sunset!” 

“Vas me!” said Schatz. “I hunt for you.” 

“Yeah; I knew that, but what good did it 
do me! I hung on to the cliff and yelled 
and waved with one hand. Tweel saw it 
too, and set up a trilling and twittering, leap- 
ing to the top of the barrier and then high 
into the air. And while I watched, the ma- 
chine droned on into the shadows to the 
south. 

“I was bitterly disappointed by the failure 
to attract attention. I pulled out my thermo- 
skin bag and crawled into it, as the night 
chill was already apparent. Tweel stuck his 
beak into the sand and drew up his legs 
and arms and looked for all the world like 
one of those leafless shrubs out there. I 
think he stayed that way all night.” 

“Protective mimicry!” ejaculated Leroy. 
“See? He is desert creature!” 

“In the morning,” resumed Jarvis, “we 
started off again. We hadn’t gone a hun- 
dred yards into Xanthus when I saw some- 
thing queer! This is one thing Schatz didn’t 
photograph. I’ll wager! 

“There was a line of little pyramids — tiny 



ones, not more than six inches high, stretch- 
ing across Xanthus as far as I could see! 
Little buildings made of pygmy bricks, they 
were, hollow inside and truncated, or at 
least broken at the top and empty. I pointed 
at them and said ‘What?’ to Tweel, but he 
gave some negative twitters to indicate, I 
suppose, that he didn’t know. So off we 
went, following the row of pyramids because 
they ran north, and I was going north. 

“Man, we trailed that line for hours! After 
a while, I noticed another queer thing: they 
were getting larger. Same number of bricks 
in each one, but the bricks were larger. 

“By noon they were shoulder high. I 
looked into a couple — all just the same, 
broken at the top and empty. I examined 
a brick or two as well; they were silica, and 
old as creation itself!” 

“How do you know?” asked Leroy. 

“They were weathered — edges rounded. 
Silica doesn’t weather easily even on Earth, 
and in this climate — !” 

“How old you think?” 

66*?IFTY THOUSAND— a hundred 
years. How can I tell? The little ones 
we saw in the morning were older — perhaps 
ten times as old. Crumbling. How old 
would that make them? Half a million years? 
Who knows?” Jarvis paused a moment. 
“Well,” he resumed, “we followed the line. 
Tweel pointed at them and said ‘rock’ once 
or twice, but he’d done that many times 
before. Besides, he was more or less right 
about these. 

“I tried questioning him. I pointed at a 
pyramid and asked ‘People?’ and indicated 
the two of us. He set up a negative sort of 
chuckling and said, ‘No, no, no. No one- 
one-two. No two-two-four,’ meanwhile rub- 
bing his stomach. I just stared at him and he 
went through the business again. ‘No one- 
one-two. No two-two-four.’ I just gaped 
at him.” 

“That proves it!” exclaimed Harrison. 
“Nuts!” 

“You think so?” queried Jarvis sardonical- 
ly. “Well, I figured it out different! ‘No 
one-one-two!’ You don’t get it, of course, 
do you?” 

“Nope — nor do you!” 

“I think I do! Tweel was using the few 
English words he knew to put over a very 
complex idea. What, let me ask, does 
mathematics make you think of?” 

“Why— of astronomy. Or — or logic!” 

“That’s it! ‘No one-one-two!’ Tweel 
was telling me that the builders of the pyra- 
mids weren’t people, that they weren’t intel- 
ligent, that they weren’t reasoning creatures ! 
Get it?” 

“Huh! I'll be damned!” 

“You probably will.” 

“Why did Tweel rub his belly?” Leroy 
asked. 

“Why? Because, my dear biologist, that’s 
where his brains were! Not in his tiny head 
— in his middle!” 

“C’est impossible!” 

“Not on Mars, it isn’t! This flora and 



112 



STARTLING STORIES 



fauna aren’t earthly; your biopods prove 
that!” Jarvis grinned and took up his nar- 
rative. “Anyway, we plugged along across 
Xanthus and in about the middle of the after- 
noon, something else queer happened. The 
pyramids ended.” 

“Ended!” 

“Yeah; the queer part was that the last 
one — and now they were ten-footers — was 
capped! See? Whatever built it was still 
inside; we’d trailed ’em from their half -mil- 
lion-year-old origin to the present. 

“Tweel and I both noticed it about the 
same time. I yanked out my automatic (I 
had a clip of Boland explosive bullets in it) 
and Tweel, quick as a sleight-of-hand trick, 
snapped a queer little glass revolver out of 
his bag. It was much like our weapons, 
except that the grip was larger to accommo- 
date his four-taloned hand. And we held our 
weapons ready while we sneaked up along 
the lines of empty pyramids. 

“Tweel saw the movement first. The top 
tiers of bricks were heaving, shaking, and 
suddenly slid down the sides with a thin 
crash. And then — something — something 
was coming out! 

“A long, silver-gray arm appeared, drag- 
ging after it an armored body. Armored, I 
mean, with scales, silver-gray and dull-shin- 
ing. The arm heaved the body out of the 
hole; the beast crashed to the sand. 

“It was a nondescript creature — body like 
a big gray cask, arm and a sort of mouth- 
hole at one end; stiff, pointed tail at the 
other — and that’s all. No other limbs, no 
eyes, ears, nose — nothing! The thing 

dragged itself a few yards, inserted its 
pointed tail in the sand, pushed itself upright, 
and just sat. 

“Tweel and I watched it for ten minutes 
before it moved. Then, with a creaking and 
rustling like — oh, like crumpling stiff paper 
— its arm moved to the mouth-hole and out 
came a brick! The arm placed the brick care- 
fully on the ground, and the thing was still 
again. 

“Another ten minutes — another brick. Just 
one of Nature’s bricklayers. I was about 
ready to slip away and move on when Tweel 
pointed at the thing and said ‘rock!’ I went 
‘huh?* and he said it again. Then, to the 
accompaniment of some of his trilling, he 
said, ‘No — no — ,’ and gave two or tnree 
whistling breaths. 

“Well, I got his meaning, for a wonder! 
I said, ‘No breath?’ and demonstrated the 
word. Tweel was ecstatic; he said, ‘Yes, 
yes, yes! No, no, no breet!’ Then he gave 
a leap and sailed out to land on his nose 
about one pace from the monster! 

66T WAS startled, you can imagine! The 
M arm was going up for a brick, and I 
expected to see Tweel caught and mangled, 
but — nothing happened! Tweel pounded on 
the creature, and the arm took the brick 
and placed it neatly beside the first. Tweel 
rapped on its body again, and said ‘rock,’ 
and I got up nerve enough to take a look 
myself. 



“Tweel was right again. The creature was 
rock, and it didn’t breathe!” 

“How you know?” snapped Leroy, his 
black eyes blazing interest. 

“Because I’m a chemist. The beast was 
made of silica! There must have been pure 
silicon in the sand, and it lived on that. Get 
it? We, and Tweel, and those plants out 
there, and even the biopods are carbon life; 
this thing lived by a different set of chemical 
reactions. It was silicon life!” 

“La vie silicieuse!” shouted Leroy. “I 
have suspect, and now it is proof! I must 
go see! II faut que je — ” 

“All right! All right!” said Jarvis. “You 
can go see. Anyhow, there the thing was, 
alive and yet not alive, moving every ten min- 
utes, and then only to remove a brick. Those 
bricks were its waste matter. See, Frenchy? 
We’re carbon, and our waste is carbon diox- 
ide, and this thing is silicon, and its waste 
is silicon dioxide — silica. But silica is a solid, 
hence the bricks. And it built itself in, and 
when it was covered, it moved over to a 
fresh place to start over. , No wonder it 
creaked! A living creature half a million 
years old!” 

“How you know how old?” Leroy was 
frantic. 

“We trailed its pyramids from the begin- 
ning, didn’t we? If this weren’t the original 
pyramid builder, the series would have ended 
somewhere before we found him, wouldn’t 
it? Ended and started over with the small 
ones. That’s simple enough, isn’t it? 

“But he reproduces or tries to. Before 
the third brick came out, there was a little 
rustle and out popped a whole stream of 
those little crystal balls. They’re his spores, 
or eggs, or seeds— call ’em what you want. 
They went bouncing by across Xanthus 
just as they’d bounced by us back in the 
Mare Chronium. I’ve a hunch how they 
work, too — this is for your information, Le- 
roy. I think the crystal shell of the silica 
is no more than a protective covering, like 
an eggshell, and that the active principle is 
the smell inside. It’s some sort of gas that 
attacks silicon, and if the shell is broken near 
a supply of that element, scJme reaction 
starts that ultimately develops into a beast 
like that one.” 

“You should try!” exclaimed the little 
Frenchman. “We must break one to see!” 
"Yeah? Well, I did. I smashed a couple 
against the sand. Would you like to come 
back in about ten thousand years to see 
if I planted some pyramid monsters? You’d 
most likely be able to tell by that time!” 
Jarvis paused and drew a deep breath. 
“Lord! That queer creature! Do you pic- 
ture it? Blind, deaf, nerveless, brainless — just 
a mechanism, and yet — immortal! Bound to 
go on making bricks, building pyramids, as 
long as silicon and oxygen exist, and even 
afterwards it’ll just stop. It won’t be dead. 
If the accidents of a million years bring it its 
food again, there it’ll be, ready to run again, 
while brains and civilizations are part of the 
past. A queer beast — yet I met a stranger 
one!” (Continued on page 118) 




X-RAVJ 

Editor, SCIENCE QUESTION BOX: 

Of what use, besides being an aid to surgery, are X-rays? Can you give me a number 
of illustrations of some of the other functions? — C. M., Cambridge, Mass. 



One interesting use to which X-rays are 
put is to destroy a microbe which attacks the 
leaves of the tobacco plant. Many other 
X-ray appliances have nothing to do with 
medicine. Custom-house officials sometimes 
examine bales and packages to find whether 
objects liable to duty have been concealed in 
them. Shoemakers use them for the design- 
ing of special pairs of shoes, to conform with 
a customer’s physical requirements. Rare 



stones can, in many cases, be distinguished 
from imitations when examined with the 
X-ray. The diamond will appear transparent, 
while imitation stones look almost black. 
Engineers use X-rays to find flaws in the 
casting of elaborate parts for machines. And 
finally, the X-ray has revealed to science the 
crystal structure of atoms, a contribution 
that has aided physicists tremendously in un- 
locking the secrets of the elements. — Ed. 



FUTURE EVOLUTION 

Editor, SCIENCE QUESTION BOX: 

Evolution is supposed to be a continuous process. If that is the case, why isn’t man 
affected? — O. B., Duluth, Minnesota. 



Man is being affected by evolution, and he 
is constantly evolving! That’s the opinion of 
Dr. Ales Hrdlicka, curator of physical an- 
thropology of the Smithsonian Institution. 
Dr. Hrdlicka bases his outlook for the human 
future partly on the unique collection of 
16,000 human skulls which he has assembled 
during a lifetime of work in the U. S. Na- 
tional Museum. Ancient and modern skulls 
alike show great variability in both size and 
shape; and as long as a species is capable 
of variation it is evolutionally youthful. 

Man’s cousins, the great apes, however, 
have no such cheerful future before them; 
they are senile races, headed down the hill. 
The skulls of great apes, however, display a 
higher degree of specialization, a freezing 
into one standardized form for each species. 
This spells biological conservatism, stagna- 



tion, eventual extinction. Dr. Hrdlicka ac- 
cords the greatest variability, and hence the 
best chance evolutionally, to the adaptable 
chimpanzee. 

Although the best brains of today are not 
better than those of ancient Greece and 
Egypt, the average is higher, the veteran an- 
thropologist declared. The geniuses of an- 
tiquity were centuries ahead of their times — 
unique and lonely individuals. Nowadays the 
average man in the street is much closer to 
his Einsteins and Shaws than his counterpart 
in old Athens was to Plato. 

Head sizes are increasing in America, Dr. 
Hrdlicka stated, on the basis of the many 
measurements he has taken at meetings of 
many American scientific, professional and 
business men. — Ed. 



GIANT INSECTS 

Editor, SCIENCE QUESTION BOX: 

WeTe used to reading stories of giant insects in scientifiction stories. Scientifically 
speaking, what are the chances of giant insects ever dominating mankind?— E. S., Eliza- 
beth, N. J. 



Pick up the next grasshopper you see and 
study his method of breathing It is easy to 
see a row of holes on each side of his jointed 
armorlike covering, at his abdomen. Air 
rushes into these holes at everv swell of his 
body. They are merely entrances to a series 
of branching white tubes which divide again 
and again to carry air directly to every cell 
— tubes as fine as gossamer. And they func- 
tion perfectly, as nature intended them to. 



But for this breathing apparatus to func- 
tion. the whole thing must remain tiny! Let 
an insect become larger than a few ounces 
in weight, and his breathing tubes won’t 
work well. The weight of his body presses 
too hard on the tiny tubes, oxygen can’t get 
through them fast enough, and the creature 
bogs aown. Because of this fact an insect 
weighing a pound is hard to Imagine. 

( Concluded on page 13 9 J 



In this department the editors of STARTLING STORIES will endeavor to answer your 
questions on modern scientific facte. Please do not submit more than three questions In 
your letter. As many questions as possible will be answered here, but the editors cannot 
undertake any personal correspondence. Naturally, questions of general interest will be 
giyen preference Address your questions to SCIENCE QUESTION BOX, STARTLING 
STORIES, 22 West 48th Street, New York City. 



113 




I T’S BEEN exactly one year since we launched STARTLING STORIES. 
Dedicated to the exploration of the unknown, the prophecy of things to 
come — it’s the magazine of tomorrow! 

With its first issue STARTLING STORIES introduced a brand-new pol- 
icy in scientifiction by pledging to present a book-length masterpiece of fantasy 
in every number. It was a bold promise, but we felt certain we could fulfil it. 

Even our heartiest well-wishers said it couldn’t be done. That no magazine 
could continue to maintain the excellent standard set by the first number. That 



it would be impossible to score a perfect 
bull’s-eye with each successive novel. 

Well, we did it! The six most outstand- 
ing fantasy writers in the field were recruited 
— and today we can see six blazing candles 
on our anniversary cake — six candles repre- 
senting the half dozen most distinguished 
novels published within the last year. 

What more fitting than Jack Williamson’s 
novel, “The Fortress of Utopia,” to celebrate 
our first birthday? It’s Williamson’s great- 
est work, we think, rich in drama and scien- 
tific vision. Please let me know your opin- 
ion of it. 

Weinba urn's First Story 

Your nomination for the Hall of Fame — 
Stanley G. Weinbaum’s first story, “A Mar- 
tian Odyssey,” appears in this issue. This 
story is destined to be remembered forever 
as one of fantasy’s immortal classics. 

Incidentally, Stanley G. Weinbaum wrote 
a sequel to “A Martian Odyssey.” It’s 
quite long, and every bit as good as its pred- 
ecessor. Weinbaum called it “The Valley 
of Dreams,” and if you’d like to see it pub- 
lished in this magazine, drop us a line. 

The Three Planeteers 

From Mercury to Pluto , 

From Saturn back to Mara, 

We*ll fight and sail and blaze our trail 
In crimson through the * stars ! 

Recognize the song? It’s the battlc-cry 



TIIE ETHER VIBRATES — with the let- 
ters sent in by loyal followers of science 
fiction. Add your voice! This department 
is a public forum devoted to your opinion*, 
suggestions and comments — and we’re 
anxious to hear from you. Remember, this 
is YOUR magazine and is planned to fulfill 
zdl your requirements. Let us know which 
stories and departments you like — and 
which fail to click with you. A knock’s as 
welcome as a boost — speak right up and 
w’e’ll print as many of your letters as pos- 
sible. We cannot undertake to enter into 
private correspondence. Address THE 
ETHER VIBRATES, STARTLING 
STORIES, 22 West 48th St., New York, N. Y. 



of The Three Planeteers, and they’re com- 
ing — in our next issue. From Venus, Earth 
and Mercury, the three most glamorous ad- 
venturers of the spaceways band together 
for a secret purpose. 

It’s all for one and one for all as this 
unique trio of tomorrow’s daredevils chal- 
lenges the most baffling enigma in the Solar 
System in a dynamic novel of the future. 

You’ve acclaimed Edmond Hamilton’s 
masterful novel, “The Prisoner of Mars,” as 
one of the four-star hits of all-time. Now 
read Hamilton’s latest, THE THREE 
PLANETEERS, for a scientifiction treat 
that’s streamlined with thrills! It’s the fea- 
ture novel for the next issue. 

Another memorable classic from yester- 
day in the Hall of Fame for the January is- 
sue. More short stories. A new collection 
of THRILLS IN SCIENCE, a new SCIEN- 
TIFIC CROSSWORD PUZZLE. And 
many other features including THEY 
CHANGED THE WORLD, SCIENCE 
QUESTION BOX, and the Guest Editorial 
in this banner number. 

Here’s thanks for sitting in on our birth- 
day party. And here’s to the years to come ! 

—THE EDITOR. 



LETTERS FROM READERS 

WILLIAMS NOVEL DIFFERENT 

By Gene Thornton Newsome 

May I add my comment to that of the thou- 
sands of other enthusiastic readers of Startling 
Stories and scientifiction? 

Robert Moor© Williams’ “The Bridge to the 
Earth” is so utterly different from any science 
fiction tale that I have ever read in these past 
two years that I plead on bended knee for more 
of such different stories. I am afraid it would 
be a different story entirely if the happenings 
had occurred in 1940 or ’41. We would have no 
defense against miscroscopic beings as the Mar- 
lings ; or would we? 

Robert Arthur’s “Cosmic Stage” was a superb 
short story. More dimension stories are hoped 
for from this guy. 

“The Misty Wilderness” had a somewhat com- 
mon plot but was interesting; not as a science 
fiction story but as an adventure story. 

Your Hall of Fame story is the type that 



114 




THE ETHER VIBRATES 



115 



leaves you wondering too much. Can’t say I 
liked it too well, although I enjoy Hamilton's 
stories generally. They are definitely full of life. 

Hope t can say more for the next issue. This 
one has left me short-winded. — 1503 Lincoln 
Avenue, Norman, Oklahoma. 

ANALYSIS 

By Louis Goldstone, Jr. 

A few comments on the progress of Startling 
Stories. First of all, I realize that any and all 
evaluations of fiction are purely relative. Each 
reader rates the stories according to the measure 
of enjoyment and pleasure derived from the 
reading ; at least, I believe that this can be the 
only true standard of rating. Some people, of 
course are ever-vigilant for scientific flaws, etc., 
and often overlook examples of well-applied sci- 
ence or allow trifling inaccuracies to spoil for 
them a good piece of science fiction. Personally, 
I read primarily for enjoyment, and have inci- 
dentally acquired a fair store of genuine scien- 
tific knowledge from science fiction over a period 
of ten years. 

There can be no doubt that science fiction is 
improving in quality. I say that as a general- 
ization, for the nine magazines on the stands to- 
day shovel a good deal that smells along with 
the worthy. Startling Stories, I think, is get- 
ting its second wind. The magazine began with 
Weinbaum’s “Black Flame," staggered a bit with 
Binder’s “Impossible World," a story that was, 
to my mind, saved from mediocrity by Finlay’s 
illustrations, broke stride and almost dropped 
out with Hamilton’s “Prisoner of Mars," grit- 
ted its teeth and kept pounding with Wellman’s 
“Giants from Eternity," and now forges ahead 
again with Williams’ “Bridge to Earth." I look 
forward to Williamson’s coming story, which I 
am sure will not be disappointing. 

In “Bridge to Earth,” I was pleased by the 
author’s explanation of the phenomenon of the 
“flaming death” as being the manifestation of 
electrons dropping to the lower energy-levels. I 
cannot recall having seen this idea used before. 
While the “Bridge to Earth" is no new plot, and 
embodies old ideas, it is written in that pleasing 
style which makes Williams one of my favorite 
authors. His short stories, such as “Beyond That 
Curtain" were very good. I hope to see more of 
his work in the near future. 

One request — regarding your Illustrations. 
Pictures can make or break a story. The artist 
illustrating a novel, or a short, gives the reader 
his first impression of the yarn. An impression 
that is difficult to break. So keep your good 
artists — and get rid of the unpopular ones. My 
own preferences are Schneeman, Wesso, and Fin- 
lay. Wesso was at his best in the “Bridge to 
Earth” ; those pictures of the Marlings in the 
human spinal column were great. Finlay’s draw- 
ing on page 37 of the March, 1939, issue was a 
masterpiece ! His drawing for “Cosmic Stage” 
in the current issue was quite good. 

On the whole, I like Startling Stories, and I 
am sure that it will have a fine future. Keep 
away from hack-writing. If you can do this, 
you’re all set. I think you are trying, and that’s 
all that can be expected. 

The reprints are satisfactory. However, as 
long as your choice of reprints is restricted to 
sheets, how about “City of the Living-Dead" by 
Manning and Pratt? 

Your cover contest looks interesting. Big- 
headed monsters dragging beautiful babes from 
their desecrated graves. 

Brown does well on the covers. You might, 
however, try Wesso on one some time. 

Anyway, lone live Startling Stories! And 
Thrilling Wonder Stories too! — 622 Presidio 
Ave., San Francisco. Calif. 

FEMININE-LESS ISSUE 

By Isaac Asimov 

There is a great deal of significance, I think, in 
the fact that the four stories of the September 
issue of Startling Stoubb did not contain a 
single female character. Of course. I would be 
the last to claim that all female* be abolished. 
Women, when handled in moderation and with 



extreme decency, fit nicely in scientiflction at 
times. However, the September issue goes to 
prove that good stories can be written even with 
the total absence of the weaker sex. 

There are some fans that claim “human in- 
terest" a necessity in stf. since otherwise stories 
degenerate into uninteresting scientific or semi- 
scientific recitals. That is a very correct stand, 
or would be If it were not that these one-track- 
minded fans know no other form of* human in- 
terest than the love interest. 

Well, let them read "Bridge to Earth" and tell 
me what it loses in not possessing a heroine. 
Where would the story have been improved In 
having a heroine get caught by the microscopic 
creatures and having the hero rescue her, get- 
ting her caught again, having the hero rescue 
her again, then the hero getting caught and the 
heroine rescuing him f That always happens 
when a shemale is brought in (usually by the 
hair) and if that’s human interest (or any other 
kind of interest) then I'm a pickled herring. 

Three cheers for R. M. Williams for refraining 
from falling into this morass of hack. 

However, Mr. Williams falls into a different 
error of purely scientific nature, which, since it 
has been indulged in by various authors ever 
since the beginnings of stf., it is high time to 
correct once and for all. 

In reducing a man to microscopic size by com- 
pressing the spaces between the atoms, you re- 
duce his size all right but you don’t reduce his 
mass — since all the atoms originally in him re- 
main unchanged In mass or number. In short, 
the microscopic hero weighs his full quota of 160 
pounds though no bigger than the dot of an 1 
on this page. In such a condition, his density 
approaches pretty near neutronium, and normal 
human beings and normal matter (the Earth it- 
self, even) are to him only a rather thick vac- 
uum. When coughed out onto the carpet, for 
instance, he would sink to the very center of the 
earth, because nothing on earth can hold up 160 
pounds compressed Into a microscopic granule. 

Of course, a small army of men, all weighing 
160 pounds plus a military tank as well, all in- 
side one poor suffering human is just too ridicu- 
lous. 

This Is not to say that I did not enjoy the 
yarn. I did. But sometimes I do wish that au- 
thors when shrinking or expanding their char- 
acters either remember that mass remains un- 
changed or choose some method other than 
changing the amount of space between atoms. 
— 174 Windsor Place, Brooklyn, N. Y. 

STARTLINGLY DIFFERENT 

By Ray E. Gower 

You are certainly to be congratulated on the 
type of scientiflction stories that are finding their 
way into Startling Stories. Every issue seems 
to get away from the usual run of stories into 
something startlingly different. 

I believe you will better appreciate my opinion 
of your magazine if I tell you that I have fol- 
lowed nearly all the scientiflction magazines 
since the days of “Doctor Hackensaw’s Secrets" 
in the old Electrical Experimenter. — 1403 W. 
Southern Avenue, S. Williamsport, Penna. 

NOMINATIONS 

By James E. Wilson 

I started reading Startling Stories with the 
May issue and I want to say : “It’s swell !" I 

have not enjoyed a long novel so much since the 
old days. As a matter of fact, good long novels 
have been pretty scarce lately, and I'm glad to 
see them back. 

I too am in favor of your printing Manning’s 
“Seeds From Space” in your Hall of Fame. This 
story originally appeared in the .Tune, 1935, issue 
of Wonder Stories, and I am certain those who 
have not already read it will consider the yarn 
excellent. Another story I would like to see 
again Is “The Mole-Men of Mercury.” 

I wish to congratulate Mr. Hamilton on his 
“Prisoner of Mars." It was a remarkable story, 
and everything seemed plausible, but one thing. 
How in the world did the people in the matter 
caster get to the other matter caster? Wouldn’t 
(Concluded on page 117) 



SCIENTIFIC CROSSWORD PUZZLE 




HORIZONTAL 

1 — Star which suddenly flares up in the heav- 
ens and soon fades away again to its 
former magnitude 

4 — Colored circle that surrounds the pupil of 
the eye 

7 — Compound of hydrogen in which all or 
part of the hydrogen may be exchanged 
for a metal or basic radical, forming a salt 

9 — Move rapidly from point to point 

10 — Moist 

13 — Rodent 

14— -Adjective suffix to signify dealing with or 
connected with 

15— Left-hand page of a book (abbr.) 

17 — Depression between two mountains 

18 — Hundredth of a liter (abbr.) 

19 — Squared stones 

21 — Like (suffix) 

22 — American panther 

23 — Image formed by convergence of actual 
rays 

25 — Bill of a bird 

27 — Corrode, as a metal, by the action of oxy- 
gen or of an acid 

28 — Jointed sensitive organ or feeler 

31 — Moisture condensed from the atmosphere 
in small drops upon the upper surface of 
plants 

32 — International language 



33 — Geologioal prefix, indicating beginning of 
an epoch 

35 — Climbing annual herb of bean family 

30 — South latitude (abbr.) 

37 — Efficient 

30 — Indefinite article 

40 — Rave 

41 — Enlarge a hole with a rotating cutter 

43 — Double sulfate or selenate 

45 — Highest chronological division of geo- 
logical history 

46 — Coating caused on iron or steel by oxida- 
tion 

40 — Fluid form of matter which is elastic 

50 — Metallic element of the rare earth group 
(abbr.) 

51 — Dark-gray metallic element found in 
small quantities in many minerals (abbr.) 

53 — Female deer 

54 — For instance (abbr.) 

55 — Colorless volatile liquid obtained by dis- 
tilling amyl alcohol with zinc chloride 

57 — Sixth tone of the diatonic scale 

58 — Rate of flow of electricity 

59 — Ovule from which a plant may be repro- 
duced 

VERTICAL 

1 — Egg of an insect 

2 — Hypothetical force formerly supposed by 
some to pervade all nature 



116 



3 — Genus of fossil reptilian birds 

4 — Animals having no spinal column 

5 — In Weismann’s theory of heredity, a unit 
of germ- plasm 

6 — Membranous pouch 

7 — Bow of flame occurring between two ad- 
jacent electrodes when connected with a 
powerful source of electricity 

S— Metallic element belonging to the alka- 
line earth metals (abbr.) 

11 — Gram-molecule 

12 — Go back and forth between points 

14 — Doctrine 

10 — Natural substance containing metal 

1» — Short-winged, web-footed diving bird of 
northern seas 

20* — Liquid juice of plants 

22 — Foot of an animal having nails or claws 

24 — Piece of soft metal, usually in the form of 
a rotating disk, used in cutting gems and 
polishing hard metal 

25 — Bachelor of Dental Surgery (abbr.) 

The Solution Is on Page 



26 — -Snakelike fish 

20 — Meadow 

30 — Separate (gold) by shaking gold-bearing 
earth with water 

32 — Goddess of the sea 

34 — Forming diminutives (suffix) 

37 — Non-circular or eccentric rotating piece, 
to give reciprocating motion 

38 — Organ of hearing 

40 — Russia (abbr.) 

42 — Wet earth 

43 — Entire period of life of a person 

44 — Retardation of magnetization in respect 
of a magnetizing force 

47 — Colloid suspended in liquid 

48 — Beverage 

50 — Ostrichlike Australian bird 

52 — Suffix used to indicate hydrocarbons of 
the acetylene series 

55 — Noting; a compound having properties of 
or derived from an aldehyde (abbr.) 

56 — Electrical Engineer (abbr.) 

129 — If You MUST Look! 



THE ETHER VIBRATES 

(Concluded from page 115) 



the rotation of the two planets put the opposite 
matter caster on the side turned away from the 
other caster? However, it was still a good story 
and I’m looking forward to many more like It 
— R. No. 1. Hunter’s Cottages, Hot Springs, 
Arkansas. 

(Tour point concerning the relative positions 
of the two matter casters varying because of the 
two planets’ rotations is a valid one. However, 
both Barth and Mars revolve on their axis once 
each twenty-four hours — Mars in slightly less 
time. So Philip Crain operated the matter cas- 
ter only when the two were in opposition. — Ed.) 

TO ALL FRIENDS AND FANS OF 
THE LATE HOWARD PHILLIPS 
LOVECRAFT 

By Donald Wandrei and August W. Derleth 

After two years of careful editing, the works 
of H. P. Bovecraft are beginning to take shape 
in readiness for the eyes of a printer. At this 
writing — June, 1939 — the first volume. The Out- 
sider and Others, is ready to go to press, provid- 
ed that enough subscriptions to it are forthcom- 
ing to justify our personally guaranteeing the 
cost of printing. Because The Outsider and 
Others is an omnibus volume containing, with 
but a few minor exceptions, all the stories of 
Lovecraft, together with his complete and re- 
cently revised Supernatural Hofror in litera- 
ture , and an introductory biographical sketch of 
Lovecraft, printing costs make it necessary for 
us to ask $3.50 per copy for the Outsider and 
Others, if ordered before publication, $5.00 if 

We plan to publish so that the book will be 
ready for distribution in December of this year. 
But, frankly, we must have subscriptions first ; 
if we have a sufficient quantity of books on order 
by September or October first, we will instruct 
the printer to go forward. And when we write 
“subscriptions,” we mean cash in hand ; in other 
words, we are asking those who want copies of 
this book to send their checks to August Derleth, 
Sauk City. Wisconsin, as soon as possible. These 
checks will be deposited against the expense of 
publication ; anj' net profit, of course, will go to 
Mrs. Gamwell — but there is little chance of net 
profit. 

We need not take space to “sell” this book to 
you who have known the work of HPL. But we 
do ask for your utmost co-operation in this im- 
portant publishing event, we do want you to talk 
this book up among fellow fans who may not be 
so familiar with Lovecraft’s work, and we do 
want you to send in your own checks just as 
soon as possible, so that we can go ahead with 
the printing of this book. If, after two or three 

117 



months, insufficient funds have been pledged or 
sent, and we find it impossible to go on with 
plans at this time, all money will be refunded. 
But such a situation will certainly not arise if 
we have the co-operation we have every reason 
to expect. 

Let us hear from you just as soon as possible. 
We are planning an edition of only 1000 copies, 
but in case of orders in advance of this number, 
our print order will be raised. 

MASTERFUL NOVEL 

By Art R. Sehnert 

I have just finished reading your July issue of 
Startling Stories. I have yet to see a better 
story than the one, “Giants From Eternity.” 
"Wellman wrote the novel masterfully. Never 
was a story told more interestingly. His char- 
acterization of Pasteur et al. is beyond doubt a 
literary masterpiece. I would like to compli- 
ment him on one point especially : when Nor- 
fleet returned the five immortal scientists to life, 
Wellman didn’t state whether or not their souls 
returned to their bodies. Well, Wellman must 
be an excellent diplomat. Only a well informed 
psychologist would have known that any men- 
tion of the word “soul” would have offended some 
people, and that denying its return would have 
offended some others — so he did the only sensible 
thing, and didn’t mention that angle. Here is 
my nomination of Manly Wade Wellman for 
ranking with scientiflction's leading ten writers. 

I think your feature Hall of Fame an excel- 
lent contribution to scientifletion. I know I 
would not have had the pleasure of reading 
“World Without Name” otherwise. 

Could you possibly add a department to S.S.? 
One where we readers, who like to theorize, 
could expound our theories, and receive criti- 
cisms from fellow readers concerning these 
speculations. How about it, readers? — 791 
Maury, Memphis, Tenn. 

CARLYLE AND QUADE 

By Samuel Simpson 

In the January issue of Startling Stories 
Arthur K. Barnes announced plans for a book- 
length novel of Gerry Carlyle and Tony Quade. 
In the March number five readers backed up this 
proposal, while one was opposed. In the May 
S.S. only one letter touched on the subject and 
that contributed a vote for the novel. There 
have been many other votes in favor of a Car- 
lyle-Quade novel in S.S. — so when do we get one? 

(Carlyle and Quade are characters belonging 
to Thrilling Wonder Stories, and we don’t see 
enough of them even there. See the October is- 
sue of T.W.S.. which features a long novelet by 
Kuttner and Barnes and both characters! — Ed.) 



118 



STARTLING STORIES 




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A MARTIAN ODYSSEY 

(Continued from page 11 2) 

“If you did, it must have been in your 
dreams!” growled Harrison. 

“You’re right!” said Jarvis soberly. “In 
a way, you’re right. The dream-beast! 
That’s the best name for it — and it’s the most 
fiendish, terrifying creation one could im- 
agine! More dangerous than a lion, more 
insidious than a snake !” 

“Tell me!” begged Leroy. “I must go see!” 
“Not this devil!” He paused again. “Well,” 
he resumed, “Tweel and I left the pyramid 
creature and plowed along through Xanthus. 
I was tired and a little disheartened by 
Schatz’s failure to pick me up, and Tweel’s 
trilling got on my nerves, as did his flying 
nosedives. So I just strode along without 
a word, hour after hour across that monoto- 
nous desert. 

“Toward mid-afternoon we came in sight 
of a low dark line on the horizon. It was 
a canal. 

“We approached the canal slowly; I re- 
membered that this one was bordered by a 
wide fringe of vegetation and that Mud- 
heap City was on it. 

WAS tired. I kept thinking of a good 
-H hot meal, and from that I jumped to 
reflections of how nice and homelike even 
Borneo would seem after this crazy planet, 
and from that, to thoughts of little old New 
York, and then to thinking about a girl I 
know there — Fancy Long. Know her?” 
“‘Vision entertainer,’” said Harrison. “I’ve 
tuned her in. Nice blonde — dances and sings 
on the Yerba Mate hour.” 

“That’s her,” said Jarvis ungrammatically. 
“I know her pretty well — just friends, get me 
— though she came down to see us off in the 
Ares. Well, I was thinking about her, feel- 
ing pretty lonesome, and all of a sudden, 
there she was. 

“Yes, there she was — Fancy Long, stand- 
ing plain as day under one of those crack- 
brained trees, and smiling and waving just 
the way I remembered her when we left!” 
“Now you’re nuts, too!” observed the cap- 
tain. 

“Boy, I almost agreed with you! I stared 
and pinched myself and closed my eyes and 
then stared again — and every time, there was 
Fancy Long smiling and waving! Tweel 
saw something too; he was trilling and 
clucking away, but I scarcely heard him. 
I was bounding toward her over the sand, 
too amazed even to ask myself questions. 

“I wasn’t twenty feet from her when 
Tweel caught me with one of his flying leaps. 
He grabbed my arm, yelling, ‘No — no — no!’ 
in his squeaky voice. I tried to shake him off 
— he was as light as if he were built of bam- 
boo — but he dug his claws in and yelled. 
And finally some sort of sanity returned to 
me and I stopped less than ten feet from 
her. There she stood, looking as solid as 
Schatz’s head!” 

“Vot?” said the engineer. 



A MARTIAN ODYSSEY 



119 



“She smiled and waved, and waved and 
smiled, and I stood there as dumb as Leroy, 
while Tweel squeaked and chattered. I 
knew it couldn’t be real, yet — there she was! 

“Finally I said, ‘Fancy! Fancy Long!’ 
She just kept on smiling and waving, but 
looking as real as if I hadn’t left her thirty- 
seven million miles away. 

“Tweel had his glass pistol out, pointing 
it at her. I grabbed his arm, but he tried 
to push me away. He pointed at her and 
said: ‘No breet! No breet!’ and I understood 
that he meant that the Fancy Long thing 
wasn’t alive. Man, my head was whirling! 

“Still, it gave me the jitters to see him 
pointing his weapon at her. I don’t know 
why I stood there watching him take care- 
ful aim, but I did. Then he squeezed the 
handle of his weapon ; there was a little puff 
of steam, and Fancy Long was gone! And 
in her place was one of those writhing, blade 
rope-armed horrors like the one I’d saved 
Tweel from! 

“The dream-beast! I stood there dizzy, 
watching it die while Tweel trilled and 
whistled. Finally he touched my arm, pointed 
at the twisting thing, and said : ‘Y ou one-one- 
two, he one-one-two.’ After he’d repeated it 
eight or ten times, I got it. Do any of you?” 

“On//” shrilled Leroy. “Moi — je le com- 
piends! He mean you think of something, 
the beast he know, and you see it! Vn chien 
— a hungry dog he would see a big bone with 
meat! Or smell it — not?” 

“Right!” said Jarvis. "The dream-beast 
uses its victim’s longings and desires to trap 
its prey. The bird at nesting season would 
see its mate, the fox, prowling for its own 
prey would see a helpless rabbit!” 

“How he do?” queried Leroy. 

“How do I know? How does a snake back 
on Earth charm a bird into its very jaws? 
And aren’t there deep-sea fish that lure their 
victims in their mouths? Lord!” Jarvis 
shuddered. “Do you see how insidious the 
monster is? We’re warned now — but hence- 
forth we can’t trust even our eyes. You 
might see me — I might see you — and back 
of it be nothing but another of those black 
horrors !” 

“Haw’d your friend know?” asked the 
captain abruptly. 

“Tweel? I wonder! Perhaps he was 
thinking of something that couldn’t possibly 
have interested me, and when I started to 
run, he realized that I saw something dif- 
ferent and was warned. Or perhaps the 
dream-beast can only project a single vision 
and Tweel saw what I saw — or nothing. I 
couldn’t ask him. But it’s just another proof 
that his intelligence is equal to ours or 
greater.” 

££VME’S daffy, I tell you!” said Harrison. 

■R- “What makes you think his intel- 
lect ranks with the human?” 

“Plenty of things! First, the pyramid- 
beast. He hadn’t seen one before; he said 
as much. Yet he recognized it as a dead-alive 
automaton of silicon.” 

(Continued on page 120) 





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(Continued from page 119) 

“He could have heard of it,” objected Har- 
rison. “He lives around here, you know.” 

“Well, how about the language? I couldn’t 
pick up a single idea of his and he learned 
six or seven words of mine. And do you 
realize what complex ideas he put over with 
no more than those six or seven words? 
The pyramid-monster — the dream-beast! In 
a single phrase he told me that one was a 
harmless automaton and the other a deadly 
hypnotist. What about that?” 

“Huh!” said the captain. 

“Huh if you wish! The point I’m making 
is that Tweel and his race are worthy of our 
friendship. Somewhere on Mars — and you’ll 
find I’m right — is a civilization and culture 
equal to ours, and maybe more than equal. 
And communication is possible between 
them and us; Tweel proves that. It may take 
years of patient trial, for their minds are 
alien, but less alien than the next minds we 
encountered — if they are minds.” 

“The next ones? What next ones?” 

“The people of the mud cities along the 
canals,” Jarvis frowned, then resumed his 
narrative. “I thought the dream-beast and 
the silicon-monster were the strangest be- 
ings conceivable, but I was wrong. The 
mound city I’d noticed from the rocket was 
a mile or so to the right and I was curious 
enough to want to take a look at it. 

“It has seemed deserted from my previous 
glimpse of it, and if any creatures were lurk- 
ing in it — well, Tweel and I were both armed. 
And by the way, that crystal weapon of 
Tweel’s was an interesting device; I took a 
look at it after the dream-beast episode. It 
fired a little glass splinter, poisoned, I sup- 
pose, and I guess it held at least a hundred 
of ’em to a load. The propellant was steam 
— just plain steam!” 

“Shteam!” echoed Schatz. “From vot come 
shteam ?” 

“From water, of course! You could see 
the water through the transparent handle, 
and about a gill of another liquid, thick and 
yellowish. When Tweel squeezed the handle 
— there was no trigger — a drop of water and 
a drop of the yellow stuff squirted into the 
firing chamber, and the water vaporized — 
pop! — like that. I think we could develop 
the same principle. Concentrated sulphuric 
acid will heat water almost to boiling, and 
so will quicklime, and there’s potassium and 
sodium — 

“Anyway, we trudged along toward the 
mud-heap city and I began to wonder 
whether the city builders dug the canals. I 
pointed to the city and then at the canal, and 
Tweel said, ‘No— no — no!’ and gestured 
toward the south. I too'k it to mean that 
some other race had created the canal sys- 
tem, perhaps Tweel’s people. I don’t know; 
maybe there’s still another intelligent race 
on the planet, or a dozen others. Mars is 
a queer little world. 

“A hundred yards from the city we crossed 
a sort of road — just a hard-packed mud trail, 
and then, all of a sudden, along came one of 
the mound builders! 







A MARTIAN ODYSSEY 



121 



“Man, talk about fantastic beings! It 
looked rather like a barrel trotting along on 
four legs with four other arms or tentacles. 
It had no head, just body and members and 
a row of eyes completely around it. The 
top end of the barrel-body was a diaphragm 
stretched as tight as a drum head, and that 
was all. It was pushing a little coppery cart 
and tore right past us like the proverbial 
bat out of Hell. It didn’t even notice us, 
although I thought the eyes on my side 
shifted a little as it passed. 

“A moment later another came along, 
pushing another empty cart. Same thing — it 
just scooted past us. Well, I wasn't going 
to be ignored by a bunch of barrels playing 
train, so when the third one approached, I 
planted myself in the way — ready to jump, 
of course, if the thing didn’t stop. 

“But it did. It stopped and set up a sort 
of drumming from the diaphragm on top. 
And I held out both hands and said mildly: 
‘We are friends!’ And what do you sup- 
pose the thing did?” 

“Said, ‘Pleased to meet you,’ I’ll bet!” 
suggested Harrison. 

“I couldn’t have been more surprised if it 
had! It drummed on its diaphragm, and 
then suddenly boomed out, ‘We are v-r- 
riends !’ and gave its pushcart a vicious poke 
at me! I jumped aside, and away it went 
while I stared dumbly after it. 

££ A MINUTE later another one came 
Am hurrying along. This one didn’t 
pause, but simply drummed out, ‘We are 
v-r-r-riends!’ and scurried by. How did it 
learn the phrase? Were all of the creatures 
in some sort of communication with each 
other? Were they all parts of some central 
organism? I don’t know, though I think 
Tweel does. 

“Anyway, the creatures went sailing past 
us, every one greeting us with the same 
statement. It got to be funny; I never 
thought to find so many friends on this God- 
forsaken ball! Finally I made a puzzled ges- 
ture to Tweel; I guess he understood, for he 
said, ‘One-one-two — yes! — two-two-four — 
no!’ Get it?” 

“Sure,” said Harrison. “It’s a Martian 
nursery rhyme.” 

“Yeah! Well, I was getting used to 
Tweel’s symbolism, and I figured it out this 
way. ‘One-one-two — yes!’ The creatures 
were intelligent. ‘Two-two-four — no!’ — their 
intelligence was not of our order, but some- 
thing different and beyond the logic of two 
and two is four. Maybe I missed his mean- 
ing. Perhaps he meant that their minds 
were of low degree, able to figure out the 
simple things — ‘One-one-two — yes,!’ but not 
more difficult things — ’Two-two-four — no!’ 
But I think from what we saw later that he 
meant the other. 

“After a few moments, the creatures came 
rushing back — first one, then another. Their 
pushcarts were full of stones, sand, chunks 
of rubbery plants, and such rubbish as that. 
They droned out their friendly greeting, 

(Continued on page 123) 



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(Continued from page 121 ) 
which didn’t really sound so friendly, and 
dashed on. The third one I assume to be 
my first acquaintance and I decided to have 
another chat with him. I stepped into his 
path again and waited. 

“Up he came, booming out his ‘We are 
v-r-r-riends’ and stopped. I looked at him; 
four or five of his eyes looked at me. He 
tried his password again and gave a shove 
on his cart, but I stood firm. And then the 
— the dashed creature reached out one of his 
arms, and two finger-like nippers tweaked 
my nose!” 

“Haw!” roared Harrison. “Maybe the 
things have a sense of beauty!” 

"Laugh!” grumbled Jarvis. “I’d already 
had a nasty bump and a mean frost-bite on 
that nose. Anyway, I yelled ‘Ouch’ and 
jumped aside and the creature dashed away; 
but from then on, their greeting was ‘We are 
v-r-r-riends! Ouch!’ Queer beasts! 

“Tweel and I followed the road squarely 
up to the nearest mound. The creatures 
were coming and going, paying us not the 
slightest attention, fetching their loads of 
rubbish. The road simply dived into an 
opening, and slanted down like an old mine, 
and in and out darted the barrel-people, 
greeting us with their eternal phrase. 

“I looked in; there was a light somewhere 
below. I was curious, so in I went and 
Tweel tagged along, not without a few 
trills and twitters, however. 

“The light was curious; it sputtered and 
flared like an old arc light, but came from a 
single black rod set in the wall of the corri- 
dor. It was electric, beyond doubt. The 
creatures were fairly civilized, apparently. 

“Then I saw another light shining on 
something that glittered and I went on to 
look at that, but it was only a heap of shiny 
sand. I turned toward the entrance to leave, 
and the Devil take me if the entrance wasn’t 
gone ! 

“I suppose the corridor had curved, or I’d 
stepped into a side passage. Anyway, I 
walked back in the direction I thought we’d 
come, and all I saw was more dim-lit corri- 
dor. The place was a labyrinth! There was 
nothing but twisting passages running every 
way, lit by occasional lights, and now and 
then a creature running by, sometimes with 
a pushcart, sometimes without. 

“Well, I wasn’t much worried at first. 
Tweel and I had only come a few steps from 
the entrance. But every move we made af- 
ter that seemed to get us in deeper. I 
dumped my water tank on the floor and sat 
down. 

“Tweel was as lost as I. I pointed up and 
he said, ‘No — no — no!’ in a sort of helpless 
trill. And we couldn’t get any help from the 
natives; they paid us no attention at all, ex- 
cept to assure us they were friends— ouch! 

“Lord! I don’t know how many hours or 
days we wandered around there! I slept 
twice from sheer exhaustion; Tweel never 
seemed to need sleep. 

“We saw plenty of strange things. There 
were machines running in some of the cor- 





A MARTIAN ODYSSEY 



123 



ridors, but they didn’t seem to be doing any- 1 
thing — just wheels turning. And several 1 
times 1 saw two barrel-beasts with a little ] 
one growing between them, joined to both.” j 

*61*ARTHENOGENESIS!" exulted Le- I 
Wl roy. “Parthenogenesis by budding- ! 
like les talipes!" 

“If you say so. Frenchy.” agreed Jarvis. I 
“The things never noticed us at all. except, 1 
as I say. to greet us with 'We are v-r-r- 
riends! Ouch!’ They seemed to have no 
home-life of any sort, but just scurried 
around with their pushcarts, bringing in rub- 
bish. And finally I discovered what they 
did with it. 

“We’d had a little hack with a corridor, one 
that slanted upwards for a great distance. I 
was feeling that we ought to be close to the 
surface shta suddenly the passage de- 
bouched into a domed chamber, the only one 
we'd seen. Aad man. I felt like dancing 
when I saw what looked like daylight 
through a crevice in the roof. 

“There was a sort of machine in the cham- 
ber. just an enormous wheel that turned 
slowly, and one of the creatures was in the 
act of dumping hts rubbish below it. The 
wheel ground it with a crunch — sand, stones, 
plants, all into p owd er that sifted away 
somewhere. While we watched, others filed 
in, repeating the p e uceee, and that seemed to 
be all. No rhyme or reaa on to the whole 
thing — bet that's of this crazy 

planet. And there was another fact that’s 
almost too bizarre to believe. 

“One of the creatures, having dumped his 
load, pushed his cart aside with a crash and 
calmly shoved him— 1* under the wheel! 1 
watched him crushed, too stupefied to make 
a sound, and a m o ment later, another fol- 
lowed him ' They were perfectly methodical 
about it, too; o~.e of the cart less creatures 
took the abandoned pushcart. 

“Tweel didn’t seem surprised; I pointed 
out the neat s u i cide to him. and he just gave 
the most human l ike shrug imaginable, as 
much as to say. 'What can I do about it?’ 
He must have known more or less about 
these creatures. 

“Then I saw something else. There was 
something be y ond the wheel, something 
shining on a sort of low pedestal. I walked 
over; there was a little crystal about the size 
of an egg, fluorescing to beat Tophet. The 
light from it stung my hands and face, al- 
most like a static discharge, and then I no- 
ticed another funny thing. Remember that 
wart I had on my left thumb? Look!” 

Jarvis extended his hand. 

“It dried up and fell off — just like that! 
And my abused nose — say, the pain went out 
of it like magic ! The thing had the property 
of hard X-rays or gamma radiations, only 
more so; it destroyed diseased tissue and left 
healthy tissue unharmed! 

“I was thinking what a present that’d be to 
take back to Mother Earth when a lot of 
racket interrupted. We dashed back to the 
other side of the wheel in time to see one of 
(Continued on page 124 ) 




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(Continued from page 123) 
the pushcarts ground up. Some suicide had 
been careless, it seems. 

“Then suddenly the creatures were boom- 
ing and drumming all around us and their 
noise was decidedly menacing. A crowd of 
them advanced toward us; we backed out of 
what I thought was the passage we’d entered 
by, and they came rumbling after us, some 
pushing carts and some not. Crazy brutes! 
There was a whole chorus of ‘We are v-r-r- 
riends! Ouch!’ I didn’t like the ‘ouch,’ it 
was rather suggestive. 

“Tweel had his glass gun out and I 
dumped my water tank for greater freedom 
and got mine. We backed up the corridor 
with the barrel-beasts following — about 
twenty of them. Queer thing — the ones 
coming in with loaded carts moved past us 
inches away without a sign. 

“Tweel must have noticed that. Suddenly, 
he snatched out that glowing coal cigar- 
lighter of his and touched a cart-load of 
plant limbs. Puff! The whole load was 
burning — and the crazy beast pushing it 
went right along without a change of pace! 
It created some disturbance among our 
‘v-r-r-riends’, however — and then I noticed 
the smoke eddying and swirling past us, and 
sure enough, there was the entrance ! 

“I grabbed Tweel and out we dashed and 
after us our twenty pursuers. The daylight 
felt like Heaven, though I saw at first glance 
that the sun was all but set, and that was bad, 
since I couldn’t live outside my thermo-skin 
bag in a Martian night — at least, without a 
fire. 

“And things got worse in a hurry. They 
cornered us in an angle between two 
mounds, and there we stood. I hadn’t fired 
nor had Tweel; there wasn’t any use in irri- 
tating the brutes. They stopped a little dis- 
tance away and began their booming about 
friendship and ouches. 

“Then things got still worse! A barrel- 
brute came out with a pushcart and they all 
grabbed into it and came out with handfuls 
of foot-long copper darts — and suddenly 
there was a thunderous booming of ‘v-r-r- 
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££|^MAN! We were through and I knew 
1VM it! Then I realized that Tweel 
wasn’t. He could have leaped the mound be- 
hind us as easily as not. He was staying for 
me! 

“Say, I could have cried if there’d been 
time! I’d liked Tweel from the first, but 
whether I’d have had gratitude to do what 
he was doing — suppose I had saved him 
from the first dream-beast — he’d done as 
much for me, hadn’t he? I grabbed his arm, 
and said, ‘Tweel,’ and pointed up and he un- 
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popped away with his glass pistol. 

“What could I do? I’d be a goner anyway 
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mighty few men who’d do that. 

“So I went ‘bang’ with my gun and Tweel 
went ‘puff’ with his, and the barrels were 
throwing darts and getting ready to rush us, 
and booming about being friends. I had 
given up hope. Then suddenly an angel 
dropped right down from Heaven in the 
shape of Schatz, with his under-jets blasting 
the barrels into very small pieces ! 

“Wow! I let out a yell and dashed for the 
rocket; Schatz opened the door and in I 
went, laughing and crying and shouting! It 
was a moment or so before I remembered 
Tweel; I looked around in time to see him 
rising in one of his nosedives over the mound 
and away. 

“I had a devil of a job arguing Schatz 
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rocket aloft, darkness was down; you know 
how it comes here — like turning off a light. 
We sailed out over the desert and put down 
once or twice. I yelled, ‘Tweel!’ and yelled 
it a hundred times, I guess. We couldn’t 
find him; he could travel like the wind and 
all I got — or else I imagined it — was a faint 
trilling twittering drifting out of the south. 
He’d gone, and damn it, I wish — I wish he 
hadn’t!” 

The four men of the Ares were silent — 
even the sardonic Harrison. At last little 
Leroy broke the stillness. 

“I should like to see,” he murmured. 

“Yeah,” said Harrison. “And the wart- 
cure. Too bad you missed that; it might be 
the cancer cure they’ve been hunting for a 
century and a half.” 

“Oh, that!” muttered Jarvis gloomily. 
“That’s what started the fight!” He drew a 
glistening object from his pocket, 

“Here it is.” 

© 1934 by Gernsback Publications, Inc. 



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STARTLING STORIES 



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REVIEW OF THE 
SCIENCE FICTION 
FAN PUBLICATIONS 



NEW FANDOM. 603 So. 11th St., 
Newark, New Jersey. Edited by Sam Mos- 
kowitz, William S. Sykora, Mario Racic, 
James V. Taurasi, and Ray Van Houten. 

Standout feature in July issue of this mimeo- 
graphed mag is Thomas S. Gardner’s breezy 
article, “Famous Characters of Science Fiction.” 
Gardner classifies fantasy characters into five 
groups, and his comments are interesting. All 
departments and fan features quite up to par. 
Silk screen cover okay. 

* * * 

AD ASTRA. 3156 Cambridge Ave., 
Chicago, 111. Edited by Mark Reinsberg, W. 
Lawrence Hamling, Henry Bott, Julian S. 
Krupa and Richard I. Meyer. 

Don’t miss Clifford D. Simak’s plaintive wail, 
“Where’s Hawk Carse?” in this issue. This 
issue in general a good job, with special contribs 
by Jack Williamson, Harry Warner, Jr., and 
others. Good adult tempo to this sheet. Illus- 
trations rather distinctive. Also, interviews, 
editorials, verse and departments. 

* * * 

SPACE WAYS. 303 Bryan Place, Hagers- 
town, Maryland. Edited by James Avery 
and Harry Warner, Jr. 

Seventh issue of this fantasy fan mag crammed 
with chatter anent the professional magazines, 
national authors, etc. Rather up-to-the-minute 
stuff, too. Varied table of contents includes 
fiction, verse, articles and departments by Robert 
W. Liowndes, Leslie F. Stone, J. Michael Rosen- 
blum, Dale Hart, Bob Tucker, and other regulars. 
Book reviews, and a nostalgic commentary on 
the fantasy fiction of yesteryear are two of the 
highlights in this number. 

SCIENCE FICTION FAN. Edited by 
Olon F. Wiggins, 2251 Welton St., Denver, 
Colorado. 

An interesting article on the several books of 
John Taine, with brief synopses, is one of the 
brighter features in latest issue of this bulletin. 
Ralph Milne Parley appears with a contrih, 
“Stfiana,” worth perusal. Third anniversary 
issue coining up with next number ! 

SCIENCE FANTASY REVIEW. 14 
Henley Ave., Litherland, Liverpool 21, 
England. Edited by L. V. Heald, A. Bloom, 
J. F. Burke, Ron Holmes, E. G. Ducker, L. 
I. Johnson and E. L. Gabrielson. 

A new publication, but a go-getter. Editor and 
his scouts survey the English fantasy field, cull 
all the news of British fantasy doings, and pre- 
sent the stuff in attractive form. For an overseas 
dish, give this the once-over. Journal is lively, 
with more than halt an eye perked at who's who 
and what's what in American s-f. 

FANTASY NEWS. 137-07 32nd Ave., 
Flushing, N. Y. Edited by James V. Taurasi, 
John Giunta, Sam Moskowitz and Mario 
Racic, Jr. 

The lade have gone to town with the First 
Anniversary Issue of this gazette ! Cdver by 
Paul, with s-f articles (about a dozen) by lead- 
ing authors, editors and fans in field. This 
issue a “must” on your list, if you’re a collector 
of the best that the fan mags have to offer. Fan- 




STARTLING STORIES 



127 



How do you KNOW you can’t WRITE? 



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the discovery “I am a writer”? 

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Engineers must be draftsmen. We all know that, in 
our times, the egg does come before the chicken. 

It is seldom that any one becomes a writer until he 
(or she) has been writing for some time. That is why 
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tasy News is a weekly sheet, incidentally, with 
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* • * 

THE SATELLITE. 57 Beauclair Drive, 
Liverpool 15, England. Edited by John F. 
Burke, David Mcllwain. 

Interesting letter by Robert D. Swisher, of 
U.S.A., tops issue. Ted Carnell’s report of the 
London Science Fiction Convention also published 
in this issue. Pleasant air to this mag, although 
it could use some more w r ordage. 

* * * 

FUTURIA FANTASIA. 1841 S. Man- 
hattan PL, Los Angeles, Calif. Edited by 
Ray D. Bradbury. 

Technocracy's the theme of this new pub. Ron 
Reynolds and F. J. Ackerman contribute pieces 
of fan phases. Next issue looks good. We're 
waiting. 



13 

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THRILLS IN SCIENCE 

(Concluded {com page 105) 
was functioning perfectly. Yet there was no 
ether-lag! And since theory demanded — as 
the honored Lorentz himself had calculated 
— that there must be a lag, Michelson had 
failed! His apparatus was so much junk. 
He had raced with light and lost. 

Bitter moment ! He turned away from the 
instruments with sagging shoulders. He had 
failed, and he had taxed his inventive powers 
to the utmost. No use trying to make a 
better apparatus. The weary lines of his 
face suddenly changed to crinkles of deter- 
mination. Why must HE be wrong? Why 
not place the blame on theory? 

“Morley!” he half shouted. “We’re going 
to announce that there actually IS no ether- 
drag. Theory is wrong. We’re right!” 

It was a daring statement for Michelson 
to make, armed as he was with his unproved 
apparatus. The American was the laughing 
stock of science. But Michelson had many 
staunch admirers, too. And these men 
agreed with him. Since the Michelson- 
Morley experiment had shown no ether- 
drag, there simply was no ether-drag! 

Turmoil arose in the world of science. 
The whole structure of physical theory 
threatened to collapse. The cry went up that 
the overconfident American had failed, just 
as everyone had expected. He had deluded 
himself in thinking he could match nature’s 
speed records with man’s clumsy engines. 

For ten long, heart-breaking years Michel- 
son’s results were pigeon-holed as faulty. 
He stood by the sidelines, waiting hopefully 
for the theoreticians to change their sen- 
tence on him. He couldn’t be wrong. He 
had checked his apparatus and principles a 
hundred times. Was he never to know vin- 
dication for his hard labors? 

But eventually other experimenters tried 
to measure the ether-drift, in various ways. 
None succeeded. Were they ALL bad tech- 
nicians? Or — the thought bit deeper like a 
strong acid— WAS ORTHODOX THE- 
ORY WRONG? 

In desperation, a new theory was whipped 
into shape. The profound Lorentz himself 
devised, with a colleague, the famous Lo- 
rentz-Fitzgerald Contraction Theory, stating 
that objects contracted in the direction of 
motion. And Michelson was told, in the 
manner of parents informing a little child, 
that all the while his very instruments had 
physically shortened and changed. Imper- 
ceptible, trifling changes, but sufficient to 
make them worthless for the super-delicate 
work required of them. It was indirect re- 
proof. Why hadn’t the so-clever American 
noticed that simple fact? 

Michelson tasted the bitterness of that ex- 
planation. It meant that his whole experi- 
ment was useless from the start! True, he 
had forced the lordly theorists to revise their 
ideas, but they still claimed there WAS an 
ether-drift that the daring American could 
never detect, with all his ability. Michelson 
couldn’t swallow that. By all the stars in 
heaven, there was no ether-drag! 



BEST FUN, FICTION AND FOTOS * 

128 




Eighteen years later, 1905. 

Einstein — relativity. A complete new vi- 
sualization of the universe, much more 
plausible than any offered before. Einstein, 
too, said there was no ether-drag. Light 
had a uniform, unchangeable speed, regard- 
less of motion. Because all motion was rela- 
tive! And Einstein credited all inspiration 
for his great new theory at the doorstep of 
the Michelson-Morley experiment. 

The American who had dared to run a 
race with unbeatable light had at least come 
out a tie ! And he had placed the cornerstone 
of all modem theory of the entire universe. 



SCIENCE QUESTION BOX 

( Concluded from page 113) 

There’s yet one other important handicap 
which puts our present insect pygmies behind 
the scientific eight-ball. Animal activity, in- 
telligent or otherwise, always depends upon 
the working of nerve cells. Stereotyped ac- 
tion, no matter how marvelous it may seem, 
can be accomplished by a few nerve cells 
properly hooked together. But intelligence, 
reason, ability to choose — the very essence of 
brain power — require millions of nerve cells 
and interconnecting paths. The tiny insect 
simply hasn’t got place for these! 

Insects outnumber mammals a hundred to 
one as to kind. They can outspeed them, pro- 
duce faster, and develop perfectly organized 
social societies, survive wherever mammals 
can, but they remain insects forever. The 
contest between the insects and the mammals 
was decided millions of years ago when na- 
ture decreed that insects should breathe only 
through the medium of tubes. — Ed. 

SYNTHETIC PEARLS 

Editor, SCIENCE QUESTION BOX: 

How can scientists tell the difference be- 
tween natural and cultured pearls? — L. O. B., 
Kansas City, Kansas. 

Very simply — by the use of X-rays. For 
the past 15 years the X-ray lias been used to 
differentiate natural from cultured pearls. 
If the gem is natural, a uniform scattering 
of the X-rays takes place when they impinge 
on the specimen, producing a six- or twelve- 
fold "spot” pattern. A cultured pearl, simi- 
larly tested, on the other hand, will usually 
produce a maltese-cross pattern. — Ed. 



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EVERY ISSUE OF COLLEGE HUMOR 1 5c EVERYWHERE 

129 






IMAGINE TNEIR JOY 





Learned Quickly at Home 



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* they hardly believe that 
I learned to play so 
^ well in so short a 
Sr vw time. 

* H. C. 8.. Calif. 



Wouldn’t Take 
$1,000 for course 



The lessons are so simple that any 
one cati understand them. I have 
learned to play by note in a little 
more than a month. I wouldn't take 
a thousand dollars for my course. 



* S. E. A.. Kansas City. Mo. 



Plays on Radio 

I am happy to tell you that for four weeks I 
have been on the air over our local radio sta- 
tion. So thanks to your institution for such 
a wonderful course. 

* W. H 8.. Alabama. 



SnrprigedFriends 
I want to say that my 
friends are greatly 
surprised at the dif- 
ferent pieces I can 
already play. I am 
very happy to have 
chosen your method 
of learning. 

* B. F.. Bronx, N. Y. 



Best Method by Far 

Enclosed is my last examination 
sheet for my course in Tenor 
Banjo. This completes my course. 
I have taken lessons before un- 
der teachers, but my instructions 
with you were by far the best. 

* A. O.. Minn. 



WHEN THEY FOUND 
THEY COULD PLAY 

k This easy as A.B.C. way! 



What Instrument Would You Like To Play? 



J UST name your instrument and we’ll show you how you 
can learn to play it — quickly, easily, in spare time at 
home. Never mind if you don’t know one note of music from 
another — don’t worry about "special talent." And forget 
all you've ever heard about music’s being hard to learn. 

The truth of the matter is that thousands now play who 
never thought they could! Yes. men and women everywhere 
have discovered this amazingly easy way to learn music at 
home. Now they are enjoying the thrilling satisfaction of 
playing the piano, violin, guitar, saxophone or other favor- 
ite instruments. Some of them are playing in orchestras 
and over the radio ; others are teaching music, making 
money in spare or full time. And thousands are having the 



time of their lives playing for their own enjoyment and 
the entertainment of their friends. 

It all came about when they wrote to the U. S. School of 
Music for the Free Booklet that shows you how EASY it is 
to learn music at home this modern way. No tedious study 
and practice, no tiresome exercises. You learn to play by 
playing — start right in almost at once with thp melody of 
a simple tune! It takes only a few minutes a day and 
the cost is trifling ; you save the expense of a private 
teacher. Does it sound too good to be true? Mail the cou- 
pon and get the FREE BOOKLET that gives all the facts. 
(Our forty-first year Est. 1898.) U. S. School of Music, 
29410 Brunswick Bldg., N. Y. C., N. Y. 



SEND FOR FREE 

BOOKLET 

• You’ll open your eyes when you find how 
quickly and easily you can learn to play your 
favorite instrument. Don’t doubt; don’t hesi- 
tate. Send for the fascinating Illustrated 
booklet that answers all your questions; that 
explains how easily and quickly you can 
learn your favorite instrument as thousands 
of others have done. There’s no cost, no 
obligation. Just mall the coupon. NOW. 
(Instruments supplied when needed, cash or 
credit. ) 

•Actual pupil's names on request. 

Pictures by professional models. 



U. S. SCHOOL OF MUSIC 

29410 Brunswick Bldfl., Now York City, N. Y. 

Without cost or obligation to me, please send roe your free illustrated booklet, "How 
to Learn Music at Home. I am interested in the instrument checked below. 



Piano 

Violin 

Guitar 

Plano Accordion 
Plain Accordion 
Saxophone 
Cello 


Hawaiian Guitar 

Banjo 

Mandolin 

Ukulele 

Cornet 

Trumpet 

Harp 


Clarinet 

Trombone 

Flute 

Piccolo 

Organ 

Drums and Traps 
Modern Elementary Harmony 
Voice Culture 






Have You 




City